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PRECIOUS BLOOD COMPANIONS

INQUIRY
and
FORMATION

WORKBOOK

Lay Associates of the Precious Blood


Cincinnati and Kansas City Provinces
PRECIOUS BLOOD COMPANIONS

PLEASE READ THIS FIRST


before turning the page

Welcome to the process of becoming a Precious Blood


Companion. This Inquiry - Formation Workbook is yours, for
your own use. Feel free to write in this book, underline or
highlight any parts of it.

It is designed to cover a two-year period (or more). It is


recommended that those in inquiry and formation meet monthly
over a two-year period. Every DELIBERATION and every
STUDY CHAPTER is to be covered. If any are missed they are to
be made up in extra sessions. Move through this material at your
own pace without rushing.

Each section is to be read prior to any discussion in the group.


Adequate preparation for group sharing also includes responding
to the discussion starters prior to gathering with the others.

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PRECIOUS BLOOD COMPANIONS
INVITATION

The first step toward becoming a


Companion is the Invitation.
Persons are invited to attend an
information night about becoming
a Companion, then sit in on the
Companion gatherings of the
local group.

Who is invited?
TWO-YEAR PERIOD If you received an invitation, it’s
because someone – a Companion
OF PREPARATION or a priest or brother who meets
with Companions – saw in you an
openness to Precious Blood
Becoming a Precious Blood Companion normally takes at least spirituality. This invitation is a
two years. It involves the following steps: way for you to learn more about
what may already be at work in
INVITATION - attending an information night then several your life.
Companion gatherings
What are the
INQUIRY - exploring one’s intentions with the help of four prerequisites?
DELIBERATIONS
Inquirers with Companions desire
interaction with the Missionaries
FORMATION - going through the STUDY CHAPTERS and
of the Precious Blood.
determining one’s covenant relationship
They are searching to enrich their
COMPANIONSHIP - celebrating the Covenant Rite and
spiritual lives.
continuing on-going formation within a small group setting
They want to gather with others to
enhance their ministry through
study and sharing.

How long does the


INVITATION period last?
After being with the group during
several gatherings those who have
been invited then request to begin
INQUIRY if they wish to do so.

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INQUIRY FORMATION COMPANIONSHIP

INQUIRY offers an opportunity FORMATION begins with a COMPANIONSHIP begins with


for an individual to consider a call welcome rite. the covenant rite (celebrated
to become a Precious Blood during a provincial assembly
Companion. There are four During FORMATION the when possible).
INQUIRY DELIBERATION ses- candidates examine the STUDY
sions. CHAPTERS in this Workbook. COMPANIONSHIP includes on-
going formation, continuing in
Inquirers go through the The sponsor and/or covenanted active ministry, taking part in an
DELIBERATIONS with the Companion meets with those in annual retreat or day of reflection,
sponsor and/or covenanted FORMATION (normally monthly) and sharing in as many
Companion(s) apart from the rest to assist their study of and sharing Companion gatherings and
of the Companion group. in the STUDY CHAPTERS. provincial events as possible
Companions can also lead these given one’s state in life.
Inquirers continue some sessions.
participation in the monthly COMPANIONSHIP is grounded
Companion gatherings during the STUDY CHAPTER sessions are in Jesus’ commandment to love
INQUIRY DELIBERATIONS. held separate from the regular and care for all, especially those
(Gathering with the Companion Companions’ gathering, i.e. in most in need. Jesus said, “This I
group prior to and/or after the another room, while the present command you, to love one anoth-
INQUIRY session is encouraged.) Companions gather with their er” (John 15:17). This simple
own agenda. It is recommended command is at the center of our
Inquirers are invited to pray for that all come together for opening understanding of what it means to
enlightenment during their and closing while the inquirers be Companions of the Precious
DELIBERATIONS and to pray have their study session apart for Blood.
various Precious Blood prayers, at least one hour. That allows the
which the Convener and sponsor inquirers to get acquainted with After first covenant all
can provide. the regular Companion group. Companions are equally part of
the same group unless they decide
Inquirers continue works of An inquirer concludes to form more than one group.
service or some ministry in which FORMATION by writing a one- Each group is required to have its
they are already engaged. No new year COVENANT. The final own convener and sponsor.
or additional ministry is expected. STUDY CHAPTER is designed
to assist in the writing of one’s After the first one-year covenant,
Finally, with the help of the spon- covenant. covenants are renewed for three
sor and Convener, each Inquirer years.
makes a decision about entering
Companion FORMATION and
investigating the STUDY CHAP-
TERS.

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CONTENTS
Inquiry
• First Deliberation ........................................8
A THOUSAND TONGUES: C.PP.S.
Gaspar’s Missionaries of the Precious Blood

• Second Deliberation .................................14


IN THE COMPANY OF FRIENDS: Spirituality
Transforming the Ordinary Into the Holy
Precious Blood Companions
• Third Deliberation.....................................18
DARING TO TAKE RISKS: Mission
Inquiry A Spirituality of Mission
and • Fourth Deliberation...................................24
Formation UNIQUELY PRESENT: Community
Sacred Listening

Formation
• Study Chapter One ...................................32
PRECIOUS BLOOD COMPANIONS:
ASSOCIATES OF THE MISSIONARIES
OF THE PRECIOUS BLOOD
By “reading between the lines” we see Companion
involvement in the Precious Blood charism

• Study Chapter Two ....................................37


A MINGLING OF MEMORY AND MERCY:
SPIRITUALITY OF THE CUP
Fr. Joe Nassal helps find an adequate response to the
question “Can you drink this cup?”

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• Study Chapter Three .....................................43
ST. GASPAR: THE MAN, THE MISSION, THE
DREAM
The meaningfulness of Gaspar’s adventurous life is
told by Frs. Joe Nassal and Ray Cera.

• Study Chapter Four ...................................50


BRINGING ALL PEOPLE NEAR:
A SPIRITUALITY OF CROSS
Fr. Joe Nassal teaches the meaning of the “book of
the crucifix.”

• Study Chapter Five ....................................56


OUR PRECIOUS BLOOD FAMILY IN THE U.S.
Founders and foundresses share a spirituality of the
blood calling us to be open to the new.

• Study Chapter Six......................................63


FROM GENESIS TO REVELATIONS:
A SPIRITUALITY OF COVENANT
Fr. Joe Nassal discusses the inclusivity of the
covenant in the Blood of Christ. We are to be an
inclusive community of memory and hope.

• Study Chapter Seven .................................69


IS THERE A PRECIOUS BLOOD WAY TO PRAY?
Reflections in this chapter call forth a creative spirit
for expressing a Precious Blood theme.

• Study Chapter Eight ..................................74


THE COVENANT RELATIONSHIP
The outcome of this chapter is the writing of a
covenant.

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Precious Blood Companions mpelled by the love of A Society Of
I Christ,
especially
manifested
in
shedding of his Blood, and aware
the
Apostolic Life

of the needs of the Church,


Gaspar del Bufalo, founder of the
Missionaries of the Precious
Blood, longed to have “a
thousand tongues to move hearts
to the Precious Blood of Christ.”
He was an excellent preacher not
only in the pulpit but in the
example of his life. He attracted a
group of like-minded priests and
brothers, uniting them by a bond
- INQUIRY - of charity. He involved the laity in
Moderator General,
Fr. Barry Fischer, C.PP.S.
his missions.
Our Moderator General, Fr. Barry
First In that number of the “thousand Fischer, C.PP.S. says we are not
Deliberation tongues” of his dream are today’s
Missionaries of the Precious
“diocesan” nor are we “religious.”
“Perhaps the foremost identifying
A THOUSAND Blood and Companions. aspect of our identity as a Society
TONGUES: of Apostolic Life,” he writes, “is
MISSIONARIES OF the ‘pastoral objective.’ When
C.PP.S. reflecting on spirituality, we must
THE PRECIOUS
always keep in mind that it is a
BLOOD spirituality for mission. When
speaking of community life and
In 1815, a Society of Apostolic
what form that might take today,
Life was founded by Gaspar del
we do so keeping before us
Bufalo under the title of the
always that we are in community
Precious Blood. The
for mission. Everything must be
Congregation has evolved and
seen from this perspective.”
developed through the work of the
Holy Spirit to its present structure
The new Code of Canon Law
and form. In this DELIBERA-
names three basic elements of a
TION we consider the current
Society of Apostolic Life: (a) the
structures and government as well
apostolic aim of the society
as the role and place of the laity in
(mission), (b) fraternal life in
the life of the Missionaries of the
community (a communion of
Precious Blood.
relationships in the bond of
charity), and (c) the striving to
live a life of charity (the
spirituality of the Blood of
Christ).

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Bond of Charity The General Government

The Missionaries of the Precious The supreme authority in the


Blood do not take vows as part of Society is exercised while the
their membership in a Society of general assembly is in session. A
Apostolic Life. Instead, in accord general aentatives from all the
with the vision of the founder the provinces who meet in Rome to
C.PP.S. members live in a bond of charity. handle the most important
In the rite of definitive business of the Society and to
Incorporation each member elect the moderator general and
The official title of our Society is
makes a promise of fidelity to the his council. A general assembly
Congregatio Missionariorum Society that is mutually may be called whenever the need
reciprocated. The mutual bond of arises, but ordinarily there is one
Pretiosissimi Sanguinis Domini charity is also included in the called every six years, the length
covenant rite made by of the terms of those elected to
Nostri Jesu Christi. Its
Companions. serve in the general government.
abbreviation by custom is
Normative Texts The moderator general and his
C.PP.S. You may wonder how council are responsible for
The government of the Society is monitoring the overall state of the
this Latin translates into English.
defined in the Normative Texts of Society worldwide and promoting
Statute S1 of the Society’s the community. The Normative its ongoing renewal and
Texts are the Constitution, expansion. They also conduct
Constitution states that “Every General Statutes, and the necessary business with the
Provincial Statutes. These Vatican. The moderator, along
province is free to translate this
documents outline a form of with some councilors, reside and
title according to the needs of its governance that establishes work at the generalate, the
authority within the context of the Society’s house in Rome, making
culture and language.” The bond of charity. regular visits to all the members.
Cincinnati Province uses the title
In the Normative Texts the
Missionaries of the Precious specifics, who has authority over
what, are carefully spelled out.
Blood while the while the There is one basic form of
government followed in
Kansas City Province uses
provinces and in vicariates. At
Society of the Precious Blood. each level, a director and a
council is elected by those who
are to be governed. Additionally,
provinces hold assemblies, or
annual meetings, to discuss and
vote on important issues.

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World-Wide Presence Districts determined by each province)
conduct the ordinary affairs of the
Some provinces are further province. They settle policy
divided into districts. At district questions and make personnel
meetings, members discuss issues decisions. Each province, through
facing their province, and share its provincial statutes, customizes
community life. Districts do not its rule of life in accord with the
have any direct governmental Normative Texts.
authority.
Lay Associates
For the sake of government and The symbol for
communal life, the Society is the Kansas City The Companion insignia (worn as
divided into provinces. Today province is the a pin or pendant) is a cross, a cup,
there are more than 500 members cup, cross and and a circle. (See front cover.)
in seven provinces serving in circle for the The circle is a symbol for
covenant. covenant. The insignia is
more than a dozen countries. In
Europe there are the Italian, The symbol for presented during the covenant rite
Teutonic (Germany and Austria), the Cincinnati and worn by Companions.
Iberian (Spain and Portugal) and province is the
Polish (Poland and Croatia) cup and cross. From its founding, the members
Provinces. The Teutonic province of the Society of the Precious
has a vicariate in Brazil. The Blood have been closely
Italian Province has vicariates in Provincial Assemblies associated with the laity with
Tanzania and India. There are whom they have worked and
three provinces in North America. Every definitively incorporated served.
The Atlantic Province is member is entitled to participate
headquartered in Toronto. It was in, and vote during a provincial Lay associates today are called
formerly a vicariate of the Italian assembly (a meeting of all the Precious Blood Companions.
Province and continues to have members of that province). The They respond to their baptismal
close ties with that province. action of a provincial assembly is call to service through association
Members of the Kansas City and required to conduct the more and collaboration with members
Cincinnati Provinces minister in important business of the of the Society. This association is
the U.S. and in missions abroad. province. formalized in a covenant rite that
The Cincinnati Province has allows each Companion to
established a vicariate in Chile Provincial Council characterize his or her
and a mission in Peru. The relationship with the Society in a
Chilean Vicariate sponsors a The provincial director (usually covenant. Together the
mission in Guatemala. While just called the provincial) and his incorporated members and
falling under the sponsorship of a council are elected for a four-year covenanted Companions strive to
particular province, each vicariate term during an assembly. The rediscover the call for Precious
or mission is somewhat provincial and his council (the Blood spirituality in our time and
autonomous. number of councilors is culture.

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Union of the Fr. Barry Fischer. General and one more step in the ongoing
Blood of Christ provincial assemblies have evolution of the life of the
focused on this ongoing renewal. Community.
The Union of the Blood of Christ Much effort has gone into a study
(U.S.C.) is a canonically of the charism of our founder and Finally, Fr. Fischer reminds us
recognized lay association of the Precious Blood spirituality. We that even though years of reflect-
faithful. It has its own statutes, continually look to the signs of ing on our identity, studying our
and the moderator general serves the time and seek to find our faith- spirituality, and the positive
as its central director. Its main ful place in the life of the Church. description of a Society of
purpose is the spreading of Apostolic Life offered by the
Precious Blood devotion. The Like other religious communities revised Code of Canon Law,
Union of the Blood of Christ is and societies of apostolic life, we “there is still much need for fur-
most active in the Italian and have experienced a significant ther clarification. Our identity
Atlantic Provinces. decline in our membership. This continues to call for attention and
has not been easy to interpret. discernment, since it is a dynamic
However, in the legacy of Gaspar reality still in evolution.”
You have not only a glorious we face each difficulty as another
history to remember and to opportunity to find Christ with us
recount, but also a great his- and to be led by the Spirit. “Do
not rupture our unity,” Gaspar THE LARGER PRECIOUS
tory still to be accom- BLOOD FAMILY
wrote to Don Innocenzo Betti,
plished! Look to the future
January 1831. “Give explanations
where the Spirit is sending quietly and without agitation. Do Our Precious Blood
you in order to do even not get aggravated when everyone Family
greater things… (excerpt does not think along the same
from Vita Consecrata an lines as you… Look at yourself as In addition to the men’s Society of
well as the Institute… Pray more Apostolic Life, there are various
apostolic exhortation by
than ever.” congregations of women religious
John Paul II in response to under the title of Precious Blood.
the 1994 synod of bishops Currently, the areas of growth for During the past decade growing
on the consecrated life and the Society are found in the ties have brought together nine
its mission in the Church developing nations of the world. provinces of our Precious Blood
and in the world) The majority of our candidates family in the United States. These
are natives of Chile, Peru, include the Sisters of the Precious
Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, Blood (C.PP.S.) of Dayton, Ohio,
Conclusion Tanzania, Poland, India or founded by Mother Marie
Vietnam. This brings a new Brunner; the Sisters of the Most
Since the Second Vatican richness and diversity to the Precious Blood (C.PP.S.) of
Council, the world-wide C.PP.S. Community. Another significant O’Fallon, Mo., founded by Sr.
has sought fitting ways to be sign of hope for the Society is its Theresa Weber; and the Sisters
faithful to Gaspar’s charism in our renewed association with the Adorers of the Blood of Christ
time and in various cultures. We laity. While in many ways it is the (ASC) founded by St. Maria de
are called to “faithful creativity,” formalization of existing Mattias, who have an American
a phrase coined by our moderator, relationships, Companions mark province.

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DISCUSSION STARTER

We hope that this section has helped you understand that the Precious
Blood priests, brothers and sisters whom you know are part of a
worldwide family. Discuss the implications for a Community that is
dealing with global issues – how can we help each other/reach out to
each other through the barriers of language and culture?

The Precious Blood


Leadership
Conference

The leadership of the


women’s communities and
the provincials of the three
North American men’s
provinces meet at regular
intervals to collaborate in
various projects and activities
such as Lent and Advent
reflections and human rights
efforts. The vocation and
formation directors from the
various congregations also
gather annually. The PBLC
has a web site with links to all
participating congregations
and their associates:
http://pblc.precious-blood.org

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PRAYER FOR THE
CONGREGATION
Let us pray for our Congregation, Let us pray for our sick:
for the superiors, members, and
Companions, and for an increase O merciful Jesus, graciously look
of vocations: upon your servants who are sick.
Comfort and strengthen them.
Loving God, through the Accept our prayers on their PSALM
intercession of St. Gaspar and St. behalf, and may they accept their OF THE
Maria de Mattias, bless our present suffering in the same EDGE
Precious Blood family. Grant us spirit that you accepted the cross
more members and associates for our redemption. Spirit of Gaspar,
who will serve the Congregation take us to the edge.
in humility, obedience, and Let us pray for our benefactors: With a gentle push,
compassion, and in all things send us forth to fly
carry out your holy will. Loving God, in your kindness beyond the confinements
reward with life everlasting all
of our minds
Let us pray for our missions: those who have been good to us
to the heart of mystery.
for your name’s sake.
You preached the vision
Loving God, you said,
“The harvest indeed is Let us pray for the of a new heaven
great, but the laborers are grace of a happy and a new earth.
few.” Raise up among us death:
many generous vocations This vision has its time
for service in your mis- O Jesus, King of and will not disappoint.
sions and bless those now eternal glory, grant Etch the vision
serving your people that we may leave in our imaginations
throughout the world. this world in your To help us see
May the holy apostles love and be the time is now.
Peter and Paul and St. brought into your Give us courage
Francis Xavier, and all the holy holy light and peace. May St. to find our home
missionaries help them and pro- Joseph, patron of the dying, pray on the edge
tect them. for us. where heaven meets earth
and hope is born.
Let us pray that we might see and Let us pray for those who have
fulfill our mission in the world died, especially our deceased Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.
today: members and benefactors:

Loving God, make us aware of Eternal rest grant unto them,


our ever-changing tasks. Help us Loving God. And let perpetual
to discern and to understand the light shine upon them.
signs of our times so that our
work may bear fruit for the May they rest in peace.
salvation of all and for your glory. Amen.

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Precious Blood Companions hen the hour Transformation:

“W came, Jesus took


his place at table
Letting Go
with the apostles. He said to them, Our founder, St. Gaspar del
‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Bufalo, certainly did not live an
Passover with you before I untroubled life nor claim to lead
suffer’” (Luke 22:14b-15). The the men in his Institute to some
gathering place for Companions secure harbor where they could
is around the table – in the hide. Our current moderator gen-
company of friends. It is the eral, Fr. Barry Fischer, continues
starting point and space to which in Gaspar’s spirit, saying, “to hear
we return. There we eagerly the cry of the blood is unsettling.
desire to share It disturbs our
- INQUIRY - stories of lives
You are a chosen race,
peace.”
poured out in
loving service. a royal priesthood, a Gaspar encoun-
Second tered enemies
holy nation, God’s own and troublesome
Jesus included
Deliberation the phrase people, in order that times, yet he
“before I suf- faced difficulties
IN THE COMPANY fer…” Paula you may proclaim the with unshakable
OF FRIENDS: Ripple writes, mighty acts of God who faith. “God will
“The man who not fail to assist
left that table to called you out of us,” he wrote to a
Spirituality
cry out to his darkness into God’s member in 1820.
Father, in the gar- “The more hope-
The Starting Point den and later marvelous light. less human
from the cross, (1 Pt 2:9) means appear to
does not claim to us, so much more
lead us to some does confidence
secure harbor where we can hide in God increase. God will take
and live untroubled lives.” care of things.” Trials for Gaspar
were occasions inviting him to
Companions leave that table as change.
the starting point for lives:
• poured out in service of the He taught that “excessive
reign of God; attachment to our own opinions,
• bonded in love with all, views and desires” is an obstacle
especially those on the that keeps us from “walking in the
margins of society; ways of Christ.” Following Jesus
• caught up in a common in fidelity to the Gospels often
vision shared with the requires a major change in our
Missionaries of the opinions, views and desires.
Precious Blood. Letting go is never easy, as the

14
late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin the people of God. They are in common artifacts, into something
wrote in The Gift of Peace: “By their own way made sharers in the precious and holy. After
letting go I mean the ability to priestly, prophetic and kingly participating in the banquet, we
release from our grasp those office of Christ.” ordinary people are transformed
things that inhibit us from into the body of Christ, something
developing an intimate In Romans 12:1 we read that the precious and holy. We then go
relationship with the Lord Jesus.” offering of our daily activities forth into the world. It is there in
Gaspar would have us know that unites us to Jesus’ offering of the world that we ourselves
hardship offers us occasions for himself on the cross. We continue perform the priestly function of
deepening our relationship with the transforming power of the transforming the ordinary into the
Jesus. Eucharist in our common holy, thus being midwives of the
ordinary actions. reign of God. This idea was
We let go so we can have empty illustrated beautifully when
hands for what God wants to give Companion Mary Ellen
us. Fr. Barry Fischer calls this Transforming the Kreilkamp told this story.
stance “faithful creativity.” Ordinary Into the Holy
Benedictine monk Godfrey For years Mary Ellen had been in
Diekmann writes: “We During their gatherings through the habit of going to daily Mass.
acknowledge that Christ, of the course of one year, the Then she took a job as a librarian
course, is the true Son of God. But Companions of Rensselaer, Ind., in an elementary school in
we are also true sons and were reading Fr. Joe Nassal’s Rensselaer that conflicted with
daughters of God, not by nature book Passionate Pilgrims. In the Mass schedule. She was
but by gift, and this is actually day 5, early evening of his book, unable to attend. This was a
sharing the life of God.” As each Fr. Nassal refers to transforming source of sadness for her. But, in
offertory reminds us: “by the the ordinary into the sacred. He place of Mass, God had chosen to
mystery of this water and wine writes, “This covenant causes us use Mary Ellen in the priestly
may we come to share in the to be changed, to be transformed, work of transforming the ordinary
divinity of Christ, who humbled to be agents of transformation. We into the holy. Mary Ellen was
himself to share in our humanity.” are challenged at each and every completely unaware of this until it
Eucharist to be messengers and emerged as a result of the
How do we share in the divinity midwives of the reign of God in discussion at that Companions
of Christ? It is in and through the our world today” (p. 64). gathering.
Blood of Jesus that we have been
brought near. Pope John Paul II In their discussion at one As a librarian, Mary Ellen had to
writes in his apostolic exhortation gathering, the Companions were shelve an enormous number of
The Lay Members of Christ’s asked, “do you see yourself acting books every day. When some of
Faithful People that the baptized to transform the ordinary into the the children volunteered to help
participate in the mission of holy as a priest transforms the her, she allowed them to take the
Christ. We are all holy, he writes, bread and wine? In what ways?” books to the proper section and
“we are all ‘anointed’ and in him lay them on top of the shelves
are all ‘christs,’ that is, ‘anointed The questions were framed within where she would eventually
ones.’ Through baptism the lay the context of a discussion on properly order the books. This
faithful are made one body with Eucharist. At Mass, the celebrant proved to be a great help to Mary
Christ and are established among transforms bread and wine, Ellen, but what it did for the kids

15
who helped her was surprising. books and began to reserve them For Companions Rose Lansdown,
These children, many of whom for when it was their turn to go to Mary Lou Potts and Geraldine
were challenged by non- the library and take out books. Dill, work in the RCIA and the
supportive and dysfunctional Soon, an entire bottom shelf of children’s Catechumenate often
home environments, found that Mary Ellen’s desk was filled with involves taking catechumens who
they were needed by an adult they these reserved books. see themselves as ordinary or
liked and trusted. Because they common, and transforming their
liked being needed, more and Even though Mary Ellen had to perceptions till they see
more of them volunteered to help give up going to daily Mass themselves as the holy people
her. As the kids shelved the books, because of her job in the library, they have always been, called by
they became interested in the what she did for those kids was name to be children of God. In a
priestly work. She transformed wonderful way, this is what
those kids from the ordinary to the conversion is: seeing the holy in
holy. She transformed them from what seems ordinary.
“just kids” to kids who were
wanted, needed, and valuable, As Companions, we no longer see
who could perform a ministry for those who have been redeemed by
someone and be appreciated for it. the Blood as ordinary, as
As a bonus, they became common, as marginalized. In a
interested in books. priestly act, we transform them
into the holy. This often involves
Fr. Mark Peres, C.PP.S., pointed a transformation of our vision
out that when he consecrates the from old perceptions to new ones.
E ven though Mary bread and wine at Mass, it looks
the same after the consecration as
Where we once saw only
brokenness, we now see self
Ellen had to give up it did before. He went on to sacrifice. Where we once saw
observe that often, transforming slavery, we now see freedom.
going to daily Mass the ordinary into the holy is Where we once saw death and
simply a matter of transforming dying, we now see rising and new
because of her job in our perception. We come to see life. Where we once saw only sin,
the library, what she that what we thought was we now see forgiveness. Where
ordinary was really holy all along. we once saw only duty, we now
did for those kids was It is our perception of the thing or see privilege. Where we once
of the person that has changed. perceived shabbiness and squalor,
priestly work. She we now see simplicity and beauty.
transformed them So the work of transforming the
ordinary into the holy often Where we once saw only a man in
from the ordinary to involves transforming our poor-man’s clothes, we now see
perceptions, our observations and the body of Christ. We see seeds
the holy. our understanding of people and and think flowers. We see
events. caterpillars and think butterflies.

16
PRAYER OF
DISCUSSION STARTER
COMPANIONS
Give illustrations of how you had to let go of your our own
Jesus our Brother,
opinions, views and desires and how this has transformed your in the company of your
life. friends on the night before
you died, you broke bread,
How would you respond to the question posed to the Companions poured wine, washed feet,
of Rensselaer: “do you see yourself acting to transform the and celebrated the hope alive
ordinary into the holy as a priest transforms the bread and wine? In in your heart.
what ways?”
May the bread we break in
the company of our friends
continue to nourish the hunger in our
hearts.

May the cup of blessing we share


with each other quench our thirst for
justice, love, and peace.

The Precious Blood you shed for


your people stains our hearts, our
hands, our lives.

Motivated by the memory of your


love and the reality of your presence
with us, may our lives be poured out
in loving service of our brothers and
sisters.

Jesus our friend,


you have brought us together
through the blood of your cross.

May we be ministers of your healing


love, reservoirs of reconciliation,
harbors of hope.

Jesus, our Companion,


inspire us to be a leaven of your love
in our world. May there be no
strangers among us, only friends,
who welcome each other with
warmth and hospitality. Seal your
Spirit upon our hearts as we gather
in your name.

Amen.

Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.

17
Precious Blood Companions THE ROLE OF THE Being Missionary
LAITY IN THE
CHURCH Being a Precious Blood
Companion is finding oneself
Being Church immersed in mission. How does a
missionary go about one’s life?
tanding before the ten- Fr. Tom Hemm, C.PP.S., during a

S foot wide and ten-foot


high door that gives
entrance to the ASC sisters’
Companion retreat said: “your
profession, job, ministry, your
family life has to be in service of
chapel in Wichita, Kansas, is an the reign of God; then you are
awesome experience. This huge being missionaries in that very
ceremonial door with a stained place.”
- INQUIRY – glass abstraction of Mary as Our
Lady of the New Covenant is a For Precious Blood people it is
testimonial to liturgical changes being attentive, wherever one is,
Third following the Second Vatican to the cry of the blood. “Our
identity and mission is centered in
Council.
Deliberation the cry of the blood and our
But we know that the doors that response to it,” says Fr. Barry
DARING TO TAKE have opened since Vatican II Fischer, our moderator general.
expose us to more than liturgical “We are living an awakening of
RISKS: Mission the consciousness that we are all
transformation. We are each
personally and as a people of faith missionaries, and not only those
called to transformation. As who go or are sent to missions in
The lay faithful “carry out “people of God,” we enter into a foreign lands. We need to
their own part in the mission new-sprung understanding of how rediscover our missionary
we are Church. This stimulating charism as a core part of our
of the whole Christian people identity.”
perception of Church is both
with respect to the Church youthful and rich with biblical
and the world.” and historical traditions. The “To discover what it means to be
Lumen Gentium, #31 people of God, whether ordained a missionary in every aspect of
or vowed or lay, are all life, we need more than ever to
accountable for the mission of the work together and share
Church. intimately in this discovery,” Fr.
Hemm suggests. “We need to be
Pope Pius XII said it well: “The companions to one another to
lay faithful find themselves on the help us see how we can reach out
front lines of the Church’s life; to people today in a new way.”
they in particular, ought to have
an ever-clearer consciousness not Living the gospel imperative of
only of belonging to the Church, peace and justice and addressing
but of being the Church.” social ills that oppress those who

18
live on the fringes of our society this is about spirituality! The to Christ’s mind, to the praise of
is particularly challenging. It will reality didn’t dawn on Peter at the Creator and the Redeemer”
more than likely lead us to face first, and Jesus has to explain the (Lumen Gentium, #31). To persist
some difficult decisions. “When meaning of a spirituality of according to the mind of Christ
we dare to take the risks service. whose Precious Blood was shed
involved,” Fr. Fischer said, “and for all “demands the conversion
share the gifts we have, we will be “In this business of the reign of in us of everything this world
blessed and enriched and the God, the spirituality of mission is holds most dear,” Sr. Joan
future will open up before us.” about forgiving (Mt 18:22). Not a Chittister, OSB, writes. The
devotion, but something as real as missionary, according to Fr. Barry
A Spirituality of Mission leaving the altar to first be Fischer, “is one who has to plant
reconciled. Learning to face the roots only in God … in the heart
“Spirituality pulls us down to get issues, the material realities of our of a pilgrim God.” Being a
our feet on the earth and not let us daily lives, discloses our Companion, in the words of our
just be up in the clouds,” says Fr. spirituality.” founder, St. Gaspar Del Bufalo, is
Hemm. “It is not just prayer and “fulfilling the will of God and
devotion. What we do with The call of the laity to be involved becoming holy along that path
material things: our money, our in the mission of the Church is a through which God is pleased to
resources, our possessions shows call from God to be involved with lead us.”
us where our soul is, and tells us material realities. There are weeds
all about our spiritual life” (Mt among the wheat that Jesus says
6:21). will grow together. Our
responsibilities do not allow us to We cannot change
At the transfiguration, he bury our talents. As Pope John
continues,“Simon Peter wanted Paul II writes in The Lay
people by our
Jesus to get back on the clouds Members of Christ’s Faithful convictions, advice,
where he belongs. But spirituality People, we are “called to take an
isn’t what happens on the active, conscientious, and
and proposals, but we
mountain of transfiguration; it’s responsible part in the mission of can offer a space where
what happens in town, in those the Church in this great moment
situations where persecution takes in history, made especially
people are encouraged
place. Peter would have liked dramatic by occurring on the to disarm themselves…
Jesus to forget about the cross. threshold of the Third
But Jesus is talking about reality, Millennium.”
to listen with attention
offering a very real, material and care to the voices
understanding. Call to Holiness
speaking in their
“At the last supper Jesus had to Because a spirituality of service is own center.
show the apostles that he was necessarily involved in temporal
speaking about reality when he affairs, it is the responsibility of – Henri Nouwen, Reaching
washed their feet. Again it was missionaries to behave “in such a Out, (Garden City, NY:
Peter who objected as if to say, way that they may always start Doubleday & Co. 1975)
you’re not going to tell me that out, develop and persist according

19
People of the Spirit things, for his Common Ground Sonnino against the decree
proposal. The Missionaries of the signed by the pope.
In his writings, St. Gaspar Precious Blood in Chile, Peru, • Through meeting with the
continually used Scripture texts Guatemala and Vietnam have pope on various occasions
referring to the Holy Spirit and suffered opposition living in a he saved the congregation
named his followers “people of state of persecution and from enemies in the
the Spirit.” To follow the Spirit is oppression. St. Gaspar had a church. Though deeply
to know when to let go of old much deeper suffering. Who grieved, he met these
ways when necessary to respond made Gaspar suffer most deeply? popes in humility and love.
to changing times and new Four popes. Gaspar’s example • Even with Pius VII who
challenges to our faith. teaches us important lessons had given authorization
about missionary truth: and funds for the society,
To follow the Spirit is to become • Because he was compas- Gaspar didn’t run from bat-
literate in the ways of the Spirit. sionate, he defended tle and had to speak the
Human nature likes to have truth, pointing out how the
something to lean on, a pattern to pope he was wrongly
repeat that seems more secure. advised.
But security is not a sign of • Because he was out with
Companion life. We do not the people, Gaspar had
consider something sacred information that the popes
because it seems safe. Rather the didn’t have.
holy thing to be done can often be
frightening and unsure. It is by If saints run away from the battle,
going through it that we they leave the battlefield wide
encounter the holy, not by doing “I shall adhere to this open for those who fight without
an end run around our life love. Those of us who love the
situations. Going through it method: Pray, explain, Church but also have our feet on
reveals our weakness, and as Paul the ground say the Church has to
communicate ideas…
reminds us: “when I am weak, be missionary, it has to be
then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). It Even when I was in reformed, it has to grow. Our
is trusting in the power of the spirituality of the Blood is a
blood, letting go of our own disagreement … I spirituality that does not run from
devices, that we are able to behold conflict even within the Church.
nevertheless accepted
a God who is creating “new Loyal to the Church and loyal to
heavens and a new earth” (Isaiah the plurality of opinions the missionary gospel, preaching
65:17). the gospel truth as Jesus did.
expressed and I still • We can’t cover up
Missionary Truth went forward. …The
divisions but need to speak
openly and lovingly on the
The missionary must be prepared communication of ideas stands we take.
for division and confrontation. • We have a powerful tool in
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin wasn’t is very important.” the spirituality of the Blood
afraid to face conflict in his life; for dealing with conflict,
he received objections from his St. Gaspar 1828 not running from it, nor
fellow bishops, among other ignoring it.

20
• What was Gaspar’s staying speaking only the truth in every
power? He didn’t fight the situation.
battles on his own but
came to the Community for As one Companion put it:
strength and guidance. “Through the closer association
• We are especially gifted in with the Precious Blood
our companionship, both Missionaries and Companions, it
clerical and lay; we need begins to seem possible, quoting
companions to help us get St. Gaspar, to ‘fulfill the will of
our feet on the ground. To the Lord and become holy along
support is to be truthful that path through which the Lord
with one another. is pleased to lead us.’”
• Companions are not “yes-
brother-,” “yes-father-,”
“yes-sister-,” people, but
rather associates who help When men (and
all to grow in the
missionary truth even women) are animated
when it hurts.
by the charity of Christ,
Gaspar’s problems brought him to they feel UNITED —
the cross; there at the “book of the
crucifix,” he found strength. In and the needs,
the conflicts we face today, in our
deepest pain we find the truth at sufferings, and joys of
the book of the crucifix.
others are felt as
Conclusion their own.
Sr. Joan Chittister suggests that – Pope John XXIII
conversion is a “process of
coming to see the world
differently than culture and
comfort and the desire to control
entice us into seeing it.” Isn’t that
how Gaspar could stand in the
truth? He wrote: “Let us surrender
our own will in all things and we
shall have died to ourselves.”
With nothing but God in view, as
Gaspar proposes, we can be
faithful to our call to be
missionary and stand in the truth.
Let us companion one another by

21
DISCUSSION STARTER

How do I describe what a missionary


is from my own lived example?

How can we companion one another to be missionaries of truth?

22
SEVEN OFFERINGS
OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
In union with Christ Jesus, who For civil governments, for
shed his blood on the cross for the morality in public life, and for
salvation of the world, and who in peace and justice among all
the Eucharist, renews the offering nations:
and sacrifice that glorify you, We offer you, Loving God, the
Loving God, we pray: Blood of Jesus!
We offer you, Loving God, the
Blood of Jesus! For the consecration of our world,
for those who suffer, for the poor,
For the glory of your holy name, the sick, the abandoned, and the
for the coming of your reign, and troubled: Compassionate
for the salva- We offer
tion of all: you, Loving Creator
We offer you, God, the
Loving God, Blood of Compassionate Creator,
the Blood of Jesus! Eternal God,
Jesus!
For our we offer you the Precious Blood
For the spiritual and of Jesus Christ.
growth of temporal May its almighty power
the Church: needs, for free us of our sins,
for the pope, bishops, priests, those of our relatives and friends,
religious, Companions, and for and for our enemies: lead our departed sisters and
the sanctification of all your We offer you, Loving God, the brothers to eternal joy,
people: Blood of Jesus! and immerse your Church
We offer you, Loving God, the in love and unity.
Blood of Jesus! For those who will be born to
eternal life today, and for all who Amen.
For the salvation of sinners, for an have died, so that one day all may
unconditional fidelity to your be reunited in heaven in the glory
word, and for the unity of all of the Lamb:
Christians: We offer you, Loving God, the
We offer you, Loving God, the Blood of Jesus!
Blood of Jesus!

23
Precious Blood Companions Conversation in are you hearing right now? Is
Community there a particular sound that goes
unheard? Listen.
ne of the three

O foundational pillars of a
Society of Apostolic Life
is community. And there can be
It would be simple at this point to
say, we often don’t listen to God
speaking to us daily through
no community without on-going nature, in the voice of a friend or
conversations. Sharing is part of even in the cry of the poor. But we
everything that takes place during don’t have to go to that extreme.
each Companion gathering. In Often we don’t listen to one
conversation we offer another.
encouragement to one another
- INQUIRY - and discover how God is working “Many times in the course of a
in our lives. We observe that there conversation, we are not really
are challenges as well as LISTENING to what the other
Fourth consolations in the gospels. We person is saying – we’re
Deliberation speak from the heart, and listen
with our whole hearts. Sharing
formulating our reply in our
minds,” said Sr. Jean Sonnenberg,
presumes confidentiality. Being in ACBS, a member of the North
UNIQUELY the company of friends brings American Conference of
PRESENT: healing, comfort, focus, and Associates and Religious. “That
Community challenge. Sharing happens best has about as much alchemical
when we are good at listening to effect as two ping pong balls
one another. Listening and bumping into each other. The ping
sharing are two skills that can be pong balls are slightly altered in
acquired or further developed. the direction their bounces take,
but they go away from the
“In those areas of life, in
When we learn how to listen and encounter unchanged.”
which the laity are uniquely share more appropriately, we
present … they are the discover that speaking about holy As we come together in our
things can be the same as Companion groups, we need to
extension of the Church’s
speaking about the daily and listen to one another – to
redeeming presence in the ordinary experiences of life as we reverence each one’s story. In our
world.” listen, even to ourselves, with gatherings we share in confidence
contemplative ears. the stories of what has been going
(U.S. Bishops) on in our lives. These need to be
SACRED LISTENING heard. “Deepening our
relationship with God and with
We are constantly buffeted with one another in the context of a
sounds from radios, TVs, and faith community happens only to
stereos; and sometime all three at the degree that we bring a
once. Is any part of our day silent? listening heart to the experience,”
And yet what do we hear? What according to Sr. Jean. “I call the

24
listening sacred. It is a form of “Some of us are addicted to the A MINI WORKSHOP
spiritual discipline.” image of ourselves as successful, ON LISTENING
as thoughtful, as kind, and can’t
SKILLS
“We get healed when we tell our risk speaking of any experience
story” is a statement Sr. Jean that might give people the
There are three stages of
credits to a professor she had at impression we are anything less
listening: attending, following
the Washington Theological than that. Who are we kidding?
and responding.
Union. He used to say that at least
twice a week, she said. “If he “We find it relatively easy to
Attending
didn’t say that, he would say, ‘it’s speak of what we are grateful for.
our secrets that make us sick.’” We sometimes find it difficult, if Attending means paying close
not impossible, to speak of the attention.
Sr. Jean continues: “Sacred challenges that come into our
Maintain a relaxed, open body
listening requires attentiveness lives through a spouse, (a sibling),
language
and a willingness to attend deeply a teenage child who may be
to the experience of another experimenting with drugs or sex Look at the other’s face or eyes
without judgment, and often or alcohol, a harsh employer or
without comment. We learn to perhaps an internal challenge Rest your mind, allowing you
listen with the heart and accept such as an inability to stand up for senses and instincts to “listen”
the other just as she or he is. This ourselves, compulsive busyness,
is healing, deeply healing. rescuing, or addiction. But God is Following
speaking to us through all the
Following means walking
“How does healing happen in the circumstances of our lives.
alongside another, allowing the
context of faith sharing? It allows
other to lead you.
one to speak of one’s deepest “What might God be inviting us
fears and deepest failures and still to through these challenges? Do not interrupt, divert, impose
be accepted. If that happens, we When we speak the truth of our your opinions, or press to have
no longer have to invest huge lives and find ourselves not being your own views heard
globs of emotional energy into judged for it, but rather, received, prematurely
maintaining a persona that we accepted, and heard, we can
Remain genuinely interested
think will make us acceptable to tangibly experience that God
others – whether it be the persona loves us, not for what we do, not Encourage by:
of the hard worker, the generous for how good we are, but just
(a) your movements: nod,
one, the giver, the washer-upper because we are. That heals the
smile, maintain eye contact
after the pancake dinner, or wounds that come from the
(b) brief, sincere comments:
whatever. We’re freed, yes freed, expectation that we must be
“Me too;” “Wow!” “And?”
to be our authentic selves. someone other than who we are.
(c) descriptions of the person’s
That frees us to become who we
“body language,” e.g. “You
“The spiritual journey is a journey were created to be. And that’s
have a smile that goes from
from slavery to freedom. But it’s salvation, healing, wholeness,
ear to ear.”
risky. As Maria Rieckelman said, grace, Spirit.”
‘You can take the people out of
Responding
Egypt, but you can’t always take
the Egypt out of the people.’ Responding with understanding
flows naturally from sincerity,

25
empathy and compassion.
Respond without advice-giving,
making snap comments or
judging what the other person
has said
Affirm the other’s feelings:
“How frustrating that was for
you!”
Paraphrase what the speaker
emphasized before introducing a
new topic: “You did everything
you could to get the promotion
and they chose somebody less
qualified.”

Remember: The only constant in


TAKE AN HONEST INVENTORY
life is change. Life is a process of
becoming, of learning, and of
evolving into our truest, highest How much do I talk? Too much? Too Little?
selves. The goal is awareness, How frequently do I interrupt when others are talking?
even if looking at our behavior is
difficult, as we observe, it has What does my body posture say to people?
already past!
What do my facial expressions say? Am I conscious of what
We cannot change the past. But, my face is saying when I am with others?
once we are aware, we can make
conscious, more life-affirming Do I welcome feedback? How do I react when I get it?
choices. We can choose the
direction of our growth into How do I let others know what my needs are? Am I dependent?
wholeness, i.e. holiness. It’s a Manipulative? Possessive? Controlling? Warm? Caring?
trajectory. A massive leap of
change is unnecessary, even Available?
slight changes are all it takes to
begin to move into a more life- How do I act when I am angry? Jealous? Lonely? Insecure?
giving direction Threatened? Frustrated? Happy? Excited?

Do I always have to be right? Have the last word?

Are my feelings and my behavior congruent? Does what I feel

inside match or fit what I say on the outside?

Do I experience a real relationship between my religious

beliefs and values and my treatment of people?

26
LISTEN!
When I ask you to listen to me But when you accept as a single
and you start giving me fact that I do feel what I feel, no
advice… matter how irrational,
You have not done what I asked then I can quit trying to
convince you
When I ask you to listen to me and get about this business of
and you begin to tell me why I understanding what’s behind
shouldn’t feel that way… this irrational feeling.
You are trampling on my When that’s clear, the answers
feelings. are obvious and I don’t need
advice.
When I ask you to listen to me
and you feel you have to do Irrational feelings make sense
something to solve my when we understand what’s
problem… behind them.
You have failed me, strange as
that may seem. Perhaps that’s why prayer
works… because God is mute
Listen! All I ask is that you and doesn’t need to give advice
listen, not talk or do …just hear or try to fix things.
me.
God just listens and lets you
I can do for myself. I’m not work it out for yourself.
helpless; maybe discouraged
and faltering, So please. . .listen and just hear
but not helpless. me.

And if you want to talk, wait a


minute for your turn. . .and I will
listen to you.

Anonymous Author

27
DISCUSSION STARTER
Sharing Your Story
All may share their stories from the notes from the questions to
the left. Each shares only what he or she wants to, allowing
everyone an opportunity to share.

Let us all listen with reverence, and hold in confidence what we


hear.
Make some notes about your
life by responding to the
following reflections:

What were significant events in


your life?

Who are the people who have


had an influence on you?

What have been your successes


and failures?

What have been meaningful


faith events in your life?

What interests you in


becoming a Companion of the
Missionaries of the Precious
Blood?

28
LITANY OF REDEMPTION

Cup of suffering...
Breathe into us... redeem us
the breath of life Cross of commitment...
In your breath is peace... Covenant of love...
redeem us, O Christ Altar of sacrifice...
In your breath is memory... Chalice of reconciliation...
remember us, O Christ
In your breath is life... Blood of Christ...
re-create us, O Christ remember us
Blood of our ancestors...
Your blood is precious... Blood of those bound unjustly...
redeem us, O Christ Blood of Gaspar and Maria...
Your blood is promise... Blood of our Community...
remember us, O Christ
Your blood is pregnant with life... Your blood is a fountain of faith...
re-create us, O Christ re-create us
Your blood is a stream of mercy...
Your blood is compassion... Your blood is a river of life...
have mercy on us
Your blood is contentment... We raise our hands in prayer...
Your blood is confrontation... stain us with your Blood
We drink the cup of suffering...
Your blood waters the earth... We embrace the cross of victory...
bring us to life We renew our covenant of love...
Your blood soaks the soil... We live the liberation won for
Your blood refreshes the soul... us...

The blood of the poor... We have washed our robes in your


is precious to you blood...
The blood of the martyrs... rend our hearts
The blood of the unborn... We have washed our hands in
The blood of the accused... your blood...
The blood of the innocent... We have washed our hopes in
The blood of the enemy... your blood...
The blood of the lost...
The blood of the lonely... You have redeemed us, O Christ,
The blood of the old... with your Blood...
The blood of the young... by your wounds we are healed
The blood of the hopeless...
The blood of the oppressed... By your wounds...
The blood of the victim... we are healed
The blood of the prisoner...
The blood of the dying... - Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.
29
The Process for Formation

The sponsor and/or covenanted Companion meets with those in


FORMATION FORMATION (normally monthly) to assist their study of and
sharing in the STUDY CHAPTERS.
After completing the previous four
DELIBERATIONS, you are ready now STUDY CHAPTER sessions are held separate from the regular
to examine the eight STUDY Companions’ gathering. It is recommended that all come
CHAPTERS. You are again reminded together for opening and closing while the inquirers have their
to write notes, underline, highlight in study session apart for at least one hour. That allows the
this Workbook. inquirers to get acquainted and to pray with the Companion
group.
FORMATION begins with a welcome
rite (see next page). An inquirer concludes FORMATION by writing a one-year
COVENANT. The final STUDY CHAPTER is designed to
assist in the writing of one’s covenant.

30
COMPANION WELCOME RITE
when celebrated in the local Companion group

This ceremony is to be embellished with prayer, intercessions, and song when possible.

Convener of the local group:


The following have completed the inquiry deliberations.
[…names…]
Each responds with “present” as his or her name is called.

It is their intention to enter formation, continuing their journey toward


becoming a Precious Blood Companion.

Provincial director or his representative:


I, [name], representing the provincial director of the - name- Province of
the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, extend to each of you an official
welcome.

In the words of our founder, St. Gaspar: “Let us, indeed, become
strengthened through the Blood of Jesus Christ.” May your reflections on the
study chapters and your continuing journey with Companions and the
incorporated members of our Society of Apostolic Life bring you to a clearer
discernment of your call so that you may respond in faithful creativity.

Be assured of the prayerful assistance of all the Companions and


incorporated missionaries of the Precious Blood.
Welcome!

Approval is expressed through applause.

31
Precious Blood Companions Companion An uncharted
Summit Statement direction
July, 1997
Being a Companion of the
hen Companions and Missionaries of the Precious

W members of the
Missionaries of the
Precious Blood gathered for a
Blood has always been a state of
mind, not a plan of action.
Companions have no official
summit meeting in 1997 at St. ministry. That can be liberating,
Charles in Carthagena, Ohio, the but at the same time it is a concept
statement that they wrote together most Companions initially found
came from the heart. It had been foreign and difficult to grasp.
built, word by word, like a tower Most of them are so active in their
- Formation - climbing toward God. respective parishes that they have
come to expect any call from the
Study Chapter The Summit pastor to end with the question,
“So, will you head up the
Statement reads:
committee?” When they received

1 Companions and incorporated


members are called by God to live
a life of faith through the
an invitation to become a
Companion, most naturally
waited to be assigned a chore to
go with it.
spirituality of the Precious Blood
PRECIOUS BLOOD and St. Gaspar. We live the bond
COMPANIONS: The chore actually came from
of charity with each other,
inside: becoming a Companion
carrying that charity with us to the
can mean looking off into a new
ASSOCIATES OF world according to our vocation
direction, opening your mind to
THE MISSIONARIES and gifts. As missionaries, we
new thoughts, listening harder for
share and proclaim the spirit of
OF THE the Community: reconciliation,
God’s call. Companions continue
PRECIOUS BLOOD on in any and all ministries they
prayer, hospitality and justice.
had before they made their
covenant, and often add new
Bringing It To Life ones. But being a Companion,
they often find, provides an
But like any definitive statement underlying support for the work
that is meant to be all-inclusive, it they are already doing.
falls short of the three- Companion gatherings become a
dimensional reality. To bring its place where they can be affirmed
words to life, the statement has to as missionaries and evangelizers,
be laid like a template over the
a place where they can gather
lives of the Companions it
strength for the work to which
describes. (See Reading Between
they will soon return.
the Lines on the facing page.) (Continued on page 34)

32
Reading Between the Lines

Companions and incorporated members


Peggy Doherty of Vallejo, Calif., chairs a vocation awareness committee
are called by God to live a life of faith
Paul Armbruster of Cleveland volunteers at a hospice for indigent people illness
through the spirituality of
Ralph and Claire Ann Wheeler of Seneca, S.D., dedicated their lodge to the Precious Blood of Jesus
the Precious Blood and St. Gaspar.
Wynone Wildeman of Warrensburg, Mo., formed a support group for single mothers
We live the bond of charity with each other,
Don and Mary Ellen Krielkamp of Rensselaer, Ind., ministered in Tanzania
carrying that charity with us to the world,
Jackie Maddy of Albia, Iowa, journeys in faith with youth and adults of St. Marys Church
according to our vocation and gifts.
Ray Cron of Celina, Ohio, delivers medications to hospice patients
As missionaries, we share and proclaim
Don Ollier coordinates and serves at St. Marys food kitchen at St. James Church in Liberty, Mo.
the spirit of the Community:
Arlene Pelzer of Lake Mary, Fla., built houses for families in need in the Dominican Republic
reconciliation, prayer, hospitality and justice.

33
(Continued from page 32) mean reading and sharing an Precious Blood priests and
article, or a chapter of a book, or brothers. The Cincinnati Province
Companion
watching a video followed by a and the Kansas City Province
Gatherings discussion. Occasionally there is each has its own mission
an issue of Fresh Bread, statement.
Companion groups gather, reflections issued by the
usually monthly, in a spirit of Companions office, for on-going
hospitality. From Old Testament
The Cincinnati Province
formation. Each province’s mission statement reads
times hospitality has been newsletter and other C.PP.S.
regarded as a sign of God’s publications are always available
as follows:
presence. As a cup holds all that is for sharing and discussing.
poured into it, we hold with We, the Cincinnati Province of the
reverence the lives of all who Missionaries of the Precious
These elements of hospitality
gather. An unconditional Blood, are an apostolic
(which at times should include a
acceptance and welcome are community founded in 1815 by St.
meal together), study, prayer, and
hallmarks of hospitality. Gaspar del Bufalo.
theological reflection, can be very
We are united by a bond of charity
intertwined. While separate time
Companion gatherings also offer and rooted in the spirituality of
need not be set aside for each, all
time for prayer in community. the Blood of Jesus.
these elements should be included
Praying with others is different We are called to
in each gathering.
from praying alone; and praying participate in the
in a Precious Blood manner is on-going renewal
A final sharing that happens
more than saying prayers. An of the Church and
during many gatherings is the
openness to various forms of the realization of the Presence of
business. Conveners use this time
prayer invites the community into God among ourselves and the
to share information on upcoming
a fresh relationship with God. people we serve.
events and other business
Reconciliation is at the heart of a In our willingness to be flexible
important to the group.
praying community. and responsive to changing
needs, we fulfill our mission
The goal of Companion
Theological reflection during through:
gatherings is to enrich our
Companion gatherings ties the - supporting and nurturing one
spiritual lives, to deepen our bond
messiness of life to the presence another
of charity in community, and to
of God, the joys of life with the - embracing a life of prayer
strengthen us for our varied
reign of God, and the social - calling forth the gifts of the laity
ministries. The hope is that
injustices in life with the and working in collaboration
through gatherings Companions
challenges of the Good News. with them
may become more aware of their
The cross with its intersecting of - preaching and witnessing to the
gifts more apprised of their
the vertical and the horizontal is a Word of God
responsibilities in today’s Church.
good symbol of contemplation - promoting conversion and
and theological reflection. Gaspar reconciliation
called it “the book of the cross.”
The Provincial Mission - pursuing justice ever mindful of
Statements the poor and marginalized.
An element of Companion
gatherings called study is what Companions have chosen to Its words echo the words and
we are doing right now. Study can weave their lives into those of actions of Companions as they

34
collaborate with priests and Personal Invitations priests, brothers and Companions
brothers to bring forth the to move from a “melting pot to a
Kingdom of God. Companions Many Companions are mosaic” mindset. It was a very
live out concrete examples of the impassioned dreamers with big striking image for Marilyn Beck
values that the mission statement dreams. Others lead more quiet of St. Joseph, Mo. She recalls,
delineates. lives of faith, helping people one “Each person’s gifts in a group
by one. The Spirit issues personal help to enrich and expand the
In the Kansas City province, invitations, not blanket dimension of the group, just as
Companions live out the values conscription, and each is called to each piece of a mosaic, though
and priorities defined by the his or her own ministry, whatever distinct in color, shape, and
members there. that may be. texture, fits together to create one
beautiful image. Jumbled up,
The Kansas City Province No one will respect that more than these pieces would still be distinct
mission statement reads other Companions, who are quick but not complementing the others
to offer praise and affirmation, to help make each other a part of
as follows: the whole picture. As Sr. Dianne
love and support. Many
Companions express their said, ‘inclusivity is not just a
The Society of the Precious Blood
appreciation for monthly noble venture but necessary,’ for
is a fraternal community of
gatherings as a time when they that mosaic to be complete. We
priests and brothers founded by
can recharge, relax and reconnect need to help each other find our
St. Gaspar in 1815.
with people who understand and right space in the mosaic of our
Bonded through charity by a
accept them. community and our society.”
promise of fidelity, we are
prayerfully motivated by the
spirituality of the That kind of closeness brings life
Precious Blood of to all who share it, said Valerie
Jesus Christ to serve Millus of Rome City, Ind.,
the needs of the especially as Companions come
Church as discerned together to speak of their love of
through the signs of the times and the Lord and their work in God’s
in light of the Gospel. name. Companion gatherings
The Kansas City Province, united leave her “bubbling over,” she
in prayer, service, and mutual said. “I think that is the greatest
support, characterized by the faith-builder there is people
tradition of its North American sharing their stories about how
predecessors, are missionaries of God moves in their lives. That
these times with diverse gifts who really revives your faith in the
work in a variety of ministries. world.”
In a spirit of joy, together with
Precious Blood Companions, we A Mosaic
strive to serve all people -
especially the poor - with care During the 1998 Assembly of the
and compassion, hope and Kansas City province, Sr. Dianne
hospitality. Bergant, CSA, urged the gathered

35
DISCUSSION STARTER

Review the mission statement of your province. Give examples of how you see that mission statement
is being lived out in the Precious Blood Community.

36
Precious Blood Companions lood,” Archbishop In this chapter, then, we are

“B Oscar Romero
once said, “is the
most eloquent of words.” In this
invited to look closely at the
contents of the cup. Can we see
the reflection of our own faces? It
chapter we will explore what we is in seeing our own reflection in
see when we look into the chalice the Blood of Christ that we will
filled to the brim with the Blood find mingled there the meaning,
of Christ. When we see this wine the memory, and the mercy
which celebrates our identity as contained in the spirituality of the
Companions of the Blood of cup.
Christ, do we see how this most
meaningful of words, blood, calls The Meaning: Can We
us to an eloquent witness? Drink This Cup?
- Formation -
Several years ago I was polishing As we look into the cup, we hear
Study Chapter the chalice my family gave me on the echoes of the question Jesus
my ordination. The silver on the once posed to his disciples, “Can
outside of the cup you drink this

2 had become
tarnished over the
years. As I was
cup?” (Matthew
20:22) This is the
question facing
sitting holding the those who aspire to
By Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S. chalice, the verse live as Compan-
from the first letter ions of the Blood
of Peter came to of Christ. It is the
A MINGLING OF mind: “Realize that question Jesus
MEMORY AND you were delivered asked James and
MERCY: from your futile John after their
SPIRITUALITY way of life not by mother pleads on
OF THE CUP any diminishable their behalf that
sum of silver or gold...but by Jesus find them a high place at
Christ’s blood beyond all price” heaven’s table. The question
(1 Peter 1:18-19). When my seems so simple and straight-
family gave me the chalice, I forward. Can you drink this cup?
doubt they had Peter’s principle in As we look at the chalice filled
mind. But as I sat there that with wine, we might be tempted
morning, polishing the silver on to blurt out as James and John did,
the outside of the chalice and “Well, yes, of course we can!”
seeing the gold on the inside,
Peter’s words seemed to apply. But when we look at this cup,
The glitter of the gold will fade; really look at it, we might pause
the sterling silver will tarnish; but and ponder the meaning of the
the Blood of Christ poured into question. When we look at this
this chalice will continue to cup and see how this cup has
redeem. caught our tears from sorrows we

37
can barely name, from pain we maybe even dying for what we promotion. At least, that is how
can barely claim, from wounds believe? Dying not for ideas or the other disciples interpret the
we want to forget, can we drink ideology; or even for causes no question. John and James want
this cup? matter how just, but for people, high places in the company. But
real people, holy, human beings. in the company of disciples, in the
When we see how this cup has Can we drink this cup? company of true friends, there is
caught our fear of loving without no higher place, there is only the
counting the cost, or our fear of Can we drink this cup when a lowest place. There is no one to
changes that come too quickly or single sip takes us on a trip wait on them for they are to wait
too slowly, or the shame we through killing fields marked with on God as they serve each other.
embrace or the guilt so pervasive crosses, landscapes littered with Though they have experienced
that forgiveness seems out of losses, until we arrive at a lonely leaders who lust for power, privi-
reach, can we drink this cup? hill where we will be stripped and lege, and position, Jesus tells his
shamed, beaten and blamed, with disciples, “It cannot be that way
When we see how this cup has nothing left to pray except, with you” (Matt 20:26).
caught our indifference at “Why? Why, God? Why have Discipleship is not about self-
another’s suffering, or our your forsaken me?” promotion but self-denial — a
blindness to the look of regret in demotion that places the other’s
another’s eyes, or our silence in Can we drink this cup after need before one’s own ambition.
the face of injustice, can we drink smelling its bitter bouquet? But
this cup? rather than bristling at the steward In the context of our
for serving a vintage more like companionship at the table of
When we see how this cup has vinegar than wine, we know this Eucharist, we can drink this cup if
caught the words another spoke one will have to do. Because this we know that the contents are not
that hurt us to the core, or the one, this vintage, contains all our an elixir that erases our wounds
anger that simmers on our soul’s suffering and all our sorrow, all but rather causes us to experience
back burner, or the lack of our tears and all our fears, all our them more deeply.
appreciation we feel or the want regrets and all our remorse, all our
of encouragement we need, or the shame and all our blame. Yes, this
busyness that consumes our days one will do. Can we drink this We can drink this cup if we know
or the loneliness that lingers cup? that in this chalice the Divine One
through the night, can we drink we call messiah is mingled with
this cup? Missing the Meaning the mayhem and mangled
promises of every person; the
When we see how the cup holds In the Gospel story when this crushed hopes and shredded
the courage to speak our truth question was first raised, James dreams of every generation.
though we know we’ll be op- and John say they can drink this
posed, lose a few friends, distance cup. But do they understand? We can drink this cup if we know
a few relatives, rattle a few cages, Jesus had just told them of his that this cup holds the vintage
see a few hands close into a fist, destination and his destiny: wine of victory that causes
can we drink this cup? Jerusalem and Calvary. We see courage to swell shrunken souls,
the failure of the disciples so passion to pulse through
Can we drink this cup when we clearly here: after just being told paralyzed limbs, and commitment
know the vintage wine it holds that the destiny of discipleship is to warm cold hands, hearts, and
will make us bold in living and crucifixion, they ask for a feet.

38
We can drink this cup if we afternoon, a strong draft of wind Through his Blood, the Blood that
realize the risks we take with a slammed the door of my office stains our memory, colors our
single sip: that we will become causing the image of Gaspar to conscience, gives us pause, and
intoxicated with redemption. And fall and to shatter on the concrete cause to hope again, is the Blood
once we are inebriated with floor. When I picked up the of life.
eternity, we will take the lowest pieces, the two largest pieces that
place, pick up the heaviest cross, remained intact were the face of Like that image of Gaspar holding
endure the most grievous loss. the founder and the chalice he the cup, we all have our images of
held in his hand. God. Though these images are not
We can drink this cup if we know a substitute for experiencing the
that in this company of When suffering slams
companions there are no slaves, the door on our lives and
only friends. And in this company causes our images of
of friends, all are equal, all are God to shatter, Precious
one. We are one in our desire to Blood spirituality
look out for the other’s interests. reflects that these two
We are one in our desire to serve. images will remain: the
face of God that is
Can we drink this cup? Can we stained with tears
look into the chalice red with because God knows what
wine and see the reflection of our we suffer; and the hand
lives being poured out in love for of God holding a chalice
others? Can we see not only our to collect all the pain and Can we drink this cup? Can we
own faces but the faces of those suffering of the world
with whom we stand and so seek into this cup. In this
look into the chalice red with
to give others a glimpse of God’s chalice God gathers the wine and see the reflection of our
glory even amid the gloom of pain and suffering of lives being poured out in love for
their lives? When we look into every human being, lifts
this cup, can we see the faces of it up, and drinks it in. others?
the poor ones, the broken ones,
the bruised and battered ones? “How well chosen wine was,” the real presence of God, our images
This is the challenge of our poet Luci Shaw writes, “to stain help us to articulate how we have
companionship in the blood of our souls with remembrance. A experienced the presence of God.
Christ: to look into the chalice and shocking red, unforgettable as We have these images, these
see the reflection of who we are blood, a rich brew in the cup, a pictures of God etched in our
and who we might become when bitter burning in the throat, a souls: a red sky at night might
we live the memory of the cup we warmth within, chosen well to remind us of God’s real presence;
drink. etch our lintels with the paradoxes the face of a child or of our
of a high priest bound to his altar, beloved might illuminate for us
The Memory: Do This in death as a tool of love and blood the face of God; the shoulder of a
Remembrance of Me as a bleach.” friend when we are sad or broken-
hearted might remind us of God’s
For many years I had an ceramic This is the memory the cup holds: shoulder that catches our tears;
image of St. Gaspar hanging on the death of Jesus is the “tool of the laughter of companions whose
the wall in my office. One autumn love” that redeems the world. company we keep might capture

39
for us God’s joy. Though we have saw his tears as we prayed with expecting an answer. But it was a
not seen God, we have seen Margaret and anointed her. question she had to ask. And as
glimpses of God’s presence in we held hands in silence, I saw a
very real and affirming ways. Afterwards, in the living room, I beauty in her eyes I had not seen
These glimpses, these benevolent saw the picture taken on their 50th before because I was too
glances, are so important to wedding anniversary before the distracted by the image of this
sustain our faith in the Divine disease began to take its toll. woman in her early forties whose
Presence. Their smiles told a story of body betrayed her. Held in the
commitment and gratitude. It is a sacredness of that moment, held
But sometimes our images of God picture that Joe obviously in the gaze of her eyes, I knew
become too small, too specific, treasured. He remembered the that Theresa already had the
and too precise. Like that picture good times even as he struggled answer to her question: God had
of our founder hanging on the through very difficult times. For not forgotten. God does not
wall that falls to the floor and on the other side of the wall where forget.
cracks when a door slams or the this picture hung, Margaret could
earth trembles, our images of God not remember his name. When I left Theresa’s room and
are sometimes smashed when the walked back into the living room,
ground beneath our feet quakes I met another woman, Theresa, I saw the pictures of Theresa
because of suffering we cannot about my age, who was a before the illness began to make
explain and loss we can barely pediatric nurse. Theresa loved her her body a hostage. How beautiful
name. We try to pick up the pieces work. Every day she held she was before this illness impris-
of our picture of God in these newborn children in her arms. Is oned her. How beautiful she is
times of incredible tragedy, but there a more profound image of now, though her body is twisted
our images are never quite the God, of life, than this? But in her and tortured. I saw the beauty in
same. late twenties she began to develop her eyes which reflects her faith.
the symptoms of multiple It won’t be the glamorous picture
We Do This in sclerosis. Eventually she was of Theresa I will remember but
Memory of Jesus been confined to a bed, her body the picture of Theresa in that bed,
is frail and useless. She cannot stretched out upon her cross, that
While giving a retreat at a parish use those arms which once held holds my attention and focuses
in Kansas City a few years ago, I countless children to feed herself my fragile faith. It is not a
spent a day visiting some of the now. The disease affected her glamorous picture but a glorious
contemplatives of the speech. She can barely talk above picture of one woman’s faith
congregation — the people often a whisper. After we celebrated the shining through inexplicable
referred to as “the shut-ins.” I met anointing of the sick and she suffering.
a husband and wife, Joe and received communion, Theresa
Margaret, who have been married asked me, “Has God forgotten I heard in the echoes of Theresa’s
fifty-two years. Margaret was me?” question, “Has God forgotten
suffering from Alzheimer’s me?” another question, raised by
disease, the insidious disease that I tried to assure Theresa that God another whose body was twisted
stole her memory. She could not has not forgotten her. But what and tortured, “My God, my God,
remember her husband’s name. evidence did I have? What images why have you abandoned me?”
Margaret looked at Joe with a of God did I possess to give such And in both questions there is an
vacant stare. Joe cared for her an assurance? I held her hand and image of God that in a strange yet
with great compassion and love. I she smiled. I knew she wasn’t sacred way gives me strength.

40
At his last supper in the company From a Precious Blood betrayed; this is what he does for
of his friends, Jesus raised the cup perspective, images of God that us each time we drink from the
of blessing and said, “Do this in are too small, too human, too cup: he hollows out our lives so
memory of me.” When we take narrow, too limited, too controlled that we can hold all the blood
this cup that contains both the by divine cause and effect are shed in anger and violence,
blessing and the suffering of our false images than can restrict our murder and mayhem in the
lives, we remember Jesus. But understanding and acceptance of chalice of our hearts. This blood,
even more, through Jesus’ God’s mercy. These images can poured out for all, calls us to
identification with the contents of be as dangerous and destructive become vessels of blessing, con-
this cup, “This is my blood,” God as the false idols our ancestors in tainers of compassion, receptacles
remembers us. faith constructed in the desert on of redemption for all the world.
their journey to the promised
The Mercy of God land. Precious Blood spirituality Because we have the courage to
suggests that we replace those drink from this cup which holds
When we are in situations of images of God with ones that will God’s mercy, we believe this
extreme suffering or intolerable strengthen not sever our faith in choice wine will fill our hollow
loss, the question “Why” is an God when suffering threatens to lives with the Blood of Christ and
appropriate question. In asking fray the sacred connection. cause this chalice of our hearts to
the question, “has God forgotten overflow with love. As Rumi, the
me?” Theresa was struggling to In the image of a tear-stained face Sufi poet, prophet, and mystic
make some sense of her suffering. of God who holds a cup in the wrote, “When grapes turn to
She had every right to ask the divine hand, the mercy of God wine, they long for our ability to
question. But her question wasn’t mingles with our own memory of change,” so when we drink of this
suggesting that God somehow what Jesus did on the night he was cup, like grapes that become
caused this disease to infiltrate betrayed. Remember what Jesus wine, like wine that becomes
her body. Instead, like Jesus’ said when he invited the disciples blood, God calls forth from us our
question on the cross, “My God, to drink from the cup: “This is my willingness to be changed. This
My God, why have you forsaken blood of the covenant, which is blood, precious and bold,
me?”, which is, of course, the poured out for many for the merciful and memorable, pulses
opening verse from Psalm 22, it forgiveness of sins.” That phrase, with passion from our hearts and
was an anguished cry of “for many,” implies that Jesus, races through our veins to bring
affirmation that somehow, instead of drawing in the us life and liberation.
someway, God is present in the boundaries of God’s love,
midst of her suffering. When expands them even more by Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S., is an
Jesus shouts those opening lines moving to the margins where the author, preacher, and consultant
of Psalm 22 from the cross, he is poor, the unclean, the sinful make to the Companion movement.
capturing the truth of the entire their home.
psalm which reflects the passage
from doubt and fear to faith and In the words of a poet, Christine
hope. Lore Weber, “All prayer
ultimately hollows our lives into a
In raising the question, “Why cup to collect the blood of a torn
have you forsaken me?” Jesus world and transform it into the
voices his affirmation in the ever wine of Justice.” This is what
present mercy of God. Jesus did that night he was

41
DISCUSSION STARTER

Fr. Nassal states that those who aspire to live as Companions of the
Blood of Christ face this question: “Can you drink this cup?” How
do you respond?

Prayer of the
Chalice from the
Sufi Tradition

O Divine One,
to Thee I raise my whole being,
a vessel emptied of self.
Accept, O gracious God,
this my emptiness,
and so fill me with Thyself —
Thy Light, Thy Love, Thy Life —
that these Thy precious Gifts
may radiate through me
and overflow the chalice
of my heart
into the hearts of all with whom
I come in contact this day —
revealing unto them the beauty
of Thy Joy and Wholeness
and the serenity of Thy peace
which nothing can destroy. +

42
Precious Blood Companions od has a dream for each readying the soil for God to plant

G of us. Sometimes our


dreams are small,
touching only our families and a
within Gaspar a deep and abiding
devotion to the Precious Blood.

few close friends. At other times


they grow larger than life itself, The Man
stretching beyond our
imaginations to touch countless Gaspar del Bufalo was born in
generations who come after us. Rome on January 6, 1786. Before
Such was the dream God had for his 23rd birthday he was ordained
one man, Gaspar del Bufalo, a priest, July 31, 1808. Seven
founder of the Missionaries of the years later, on August 15, 1815,
Precious Blood. Gaspar founded
- Formation - the Missionaries
of the Precious
The seeds of such
Study Chapter dreams are sown Blood. And he
in our hearts by was not yet 52
our parents, when he died on
December 28,
3 grandparents, and
ancestors who
have inspired us
1837.
medical
The
report
by their lives of called him a
ST. GASPAR: faith and loving “victim of
service. Certainly charity” because
THE MAN, THE the same can be even though he
MISSION, THE DREAM said for the Gaspar del Bufalo was in ill health
parents of St. himself, he
Gaspar. continued to minister to the
victims of the cholera epidemic
His father, Antonio del Bufalo, that broke out in Rome. Gaspar
was a servant in the family of a was beatified in 1904 and named
prince. He was a pious man of a saint on June 12, 1954.
firm faith who was a staunch
defender of the Holy Father. Signs of Compassion
Gaspar’s mother, Annunziata
Quartieroni, was one of those It was a very trying time, just
quiet and saintly women who three years before the outbreak of
seemed to model her life and faith the French Revolution when
after the holy women of Scripture. Gaspar was born. Napoleon had
She realized early in Gaspar’s life already begun to trample on every
that God had great things in store human right as well and the rights
for him. She regularly inspired of the Church. By the time Gaspar
him with readings from the sacred was eleven, Napoleon had forced
Scriptures, especially passages Pope Pius VI into exile and took
from the passion of Christ, over the government of Rome.

43
As a youngster Gaspar gave short sway. Gaspar witnessed it all with
sermons to his family and friends a torn heart and doubled his
and showed a great concern for His finest efforts and preaching.
the poor and sick. Perhaps
because he came from a family of trait was his Then on June 13, 1810, Gaspar
meager means and because he was brought before the magistrate
himself had been a sickly child
ability to to take an oath of allegiance to the
(almost dying at the age of two, draw others to emperor. In words that echo the
only to be cured through the Gospel of John when Jesus said
intercession of St. Francis himself as “the truth will set you free,”
Xavier), Gaspar ‘s compassion for Gaspar told the magistrate: “I
the poor and outcasts consumed co-workers. would rather die or suffer evil
him. He spent his summer than take such an oath. I cannot. I
vacations as a youth visiting must not. I will not.” For the
hospitals and bringing meals to Marco the Canons there gave him courage of his conviction, Gaspar
the hungry. the nickname “the little apostle” was sentenced to prison. But even
(apostoletto). though his body was incarcerated,
When Gaspar was 18, desiring to the truth had set his spirit free.
imitate St. Francis Xavier, he Courage of Conscience While in prison, his health once
began organizing for action on again began to deteriorate, but his
behalf of the “people on the While engaged with his mind and heart continued to
fringe,” one of his greatest gifts. companions in the apostolic work expand. A dream was about to be
He frequented the marketplace of evangelizing the cart drivers born.
where he would minister to the (barrozari) and farmers from the
marginalized: offering religious countryside who came into the Years of Exile
instruction to peasants from rural Roman Forum, Gaspar met Fr.
areas who came to Rome to sell Francesco Albertini, the canon of While exiled, Gaspar continued to
their hay, providing catechism for S. Nicola. Albertini became his preach and teach whenever he
orphans and children of the poor, spiritual advisor and had a could. Though he had performed
and setting up a night shelter for profound influence on Gaspar, works of mercy for most of his
the homeless. teaching him a deep love and young life, now in the silence of
appreciation for the blood of his cell this work was clearly
Gaspar’s Companions Christ. Gaspar often referred to defined by the Precious Blood of
Albertini as the founder of our Christ. In the solitude of exile, his
Gaspar continued what became Community. Together they vision became clear: to continue
his life’s work of ministering to founded the Pious Union of the the works of mercy and
the outcast and speaking words of Most Precious Blood in 1808. evangelization in the context of
comfort to all. But he did not do community. He and Albertini
these things alone: his finest trait In the meantime, Napoleon and prepared the basis for the
was his ability to draw others to his forces began to put pressure congregation of missionaries
himself as co-workers. What drew on the new pope, Pius VII, taking Gaspar established in 1815 in
them to him was his intellectual him prisoner and exiling him Giano, Italy, after he was released
ability, his good will, and his from the papal states in May of from prison, and drew up
holiness. When giving 1809. As the French took over the fundamental articles for the
instructions at the Basilica of San country, fear and corruption held institute of the Sisters of the Most

44
Precious Blood. He would join free to return to Rome to begin his
forces with other men and women mission as an apostle of the
united in the bond of charity to Precious Blood. He had spent four
touch others with the redeeming years in exile and imprisonment,
grace of the blood of Christ. but his enthusiasm had not waned.
He came back to a city that was in
Enemies chaos. In the aftermath of
Napoleon’s occupation, the
We cannot speak about Gaspar church in Rome was experiencing
without noting his courage in the “I would rather die great turmoil. Pope Pius VII
face of his enemies. Even within praised Gaspar for the work he
the Church there were priests, or suffer evil was doing, and appointed him to
bishops, and even popes who preach missions throughout the
opposed Gaspar. He was painfully
than take city and surrounding countryside
aware and often humiliated that such an oath. for the spiritual renewal of the
he was the subject of false rumors people, and especially for the
and accusations. I cannot. clergy who had compromised
under Napoleon. Gaspar quickly
Gaspar’s enemies filled Pope Leo I must not. accepted the assignment as the
XII’s ears with rumors about path he was to pursue for the rest
Gaspar being a “false reformer,” I will not.” of his life. In responding to the
alleging that the Society was Holy Father’s request, Gaspar
illegal, that its members were drew upon the rich resources of
interested only in eating and will go forward.” Fr. Innocenzo two of his mentors, Frs. Albertini
drinking. In an audience with Leo Betti, one of Gaspar’s first and Bonnani, to begin an Society
XII on Aug. 15, 1826, Gaspar followers, wrote: “I see the poor of Apostolic Life. From that point
finally had the chance to offer a Canon, afflicted and torn, despite on, he closed his many letters
defense. At the end of the all of his virtues, as he watches with the identification, “Apostolic
audience the pope embraced the the axe being wielded at the plant Missionary.”
missionary and said, “You have for which he sacrificed so much
many enemies, but fear not. Leo of himself up to now.” Ultimately, Gaspar’s priests and brothers did
XII is now on your side.” Gregory XVI became convinced an amazing job of rechristianizing
of Gaspar’s true character. It was the Papal States and surrounding
Gregory XVI, brought the most he who gave the society its first areas. But it was not easy work.
pain to Gaspar by threatening to official house in Rome and gave The people were sometimes
suppress his congregation. Gaspar his approval to the initiation of the rough and uneducated, opposed to
boldly battled back, convinced processes for Gaspar’s religion and to clerics. Uprisings
that his congregation was the beatification and canonization. were frequent. When Gaspar’s
opera di Dio (God’s work). “Let missionaries were sent to the city
God do whatever he wishes with The Mission of Benevento the papal delegate
my life and my reputation, as well called it “a jungle of untamed
as my honor,” he wrote. “If I am To Renew and Reconcile beasts.” But after 15 days of
to be rejected, let it serve for his mission work by the society, the
glory. . .I have total trust that the Napoleon was defeated in city was transformed through the
Society, which is entirely God’s, January, 1814 and Gaspar was reconciling Word of God.

45
Gaspar’s Companions draw sizeable numbers of outlaws
into his retreats. In time, Gaspar
In the course of his missionary “I wish that I could and his men restored the feeling
life, there were several attempts of trust in Sonnino.
not only to prevent Gaspar and his have a thousand
companions from entering certain In his 23 years as a missionary,
cities but even assaults on his life.
tongues to endear Gaspar preached endlessly in
One failed attempt was to poison every heart to the missions, retreats and conferences
him. Gaspar’s defense was his to every group imaginable:
secure confidence in God’s will: Precious Blood priests, sisters, lawyers, artists,
“in all things, whatever God prisoners. He was a gifted
wishes.” On another occasion, as of Jesus.” preacher. Our third moderator
a member of the “Carbonari” general, Venerable John Merlini,
approached Gaspar to stab him, said of his preaching that “his
the man was suddenly disarmed, up carriages and robbing and very appearance on the podium
not physically, but by Gaspar’s beating travelers. Fear pervaded moved people, especially when he
words: “Brother, do you wish to the city of Rome and the took hold of the Crucifix. He
go to confession?” surrounding areas. Though the would work his way into the
government sent special military hearts of his listeners. . .Both the
St. Gaspar brought devotion to the units into the hills to capture the learned and the unlearned would
Blood of Christ out of the outlaws, still the terror continued. flock to hear him.”
sanctuary and into the streets. His
preaching was rooted in the Confronted with this persistent Gaspar and his missionaries
saving act of Christ on the cross and painful problem, Gaspar said visited city after city. “I wish that
and so he carried the crucifix the answer lay not in force and I could have a thousand tongues,”
close to his heart. Indeed, the punishment but in love and he wrote at this time, “to endear
mission cross became the symbol religious instruction. Armed with every heart to the Precious Blood
of the newly-formed the crucifix as his only defense, of Jesus.”
Missionaries. Gaspar personally sought out the
bandits, talked with them, and
Gaspar’s words and witness gradually won their trust and
The Dream
became the wings to lift the confidence. The Dream
burden of sin from the hearts of
Becomes Reality
his listeners. He called people to His success continues to be
reconciliation, to restore that right celebrated to this day by the On one occasion Gaspar had
relationship with God and others. people living in the city of given a mission in the little town
Sonnino. After the government of of Giano in Umbria, where there
Among the Outlaws the Papal States had issued a was an abandoned monastery, San
decree for the destruction of this Felice. Gaspar saw that old
The power of Gaspar’s presence city of uncontrollable banditry, structure, in need of repair, as a
and preaching was found most Gaspar wrote to Pope Pius VII, place to take up residence. So it
dramatically in his work with the offering a plan to reform it that was at San Felice near Giano,
gangs of outlaws that were included building permanent Italy, on August 15, 1815, that
terrorizing the papal states at the mission houses to minister to the Gaspar founded the Missionaries
time. These bandits were holding people there. Gaspar managed to of the Precious Blood.

46
It was Gaspar’s vision to wed the Portugal, India and Tanzania, reconciliation. Among his
spirituality of the Precious Blood Chile and Peru, Guatemala and listeners was a 17-year-old girl
with the concept of a community Brazil, the United States and named Maria de Mattias. She was
for apostolic works of mercy. This Canada. Though we were from attracted to the crucifix that
sacred union gave birth to a different countries and cultures, Gaspar held as he preached.
Society of Apostolic Life that spoke different languages and Between the saint and Maria there
would “proclaim peace through lived different lifestyles, still we was an almost immediate silent
the blood of the cross.” were one in Gaspar’s vision. communication, an invitation
Amid our diversity, we without words. Several years
Fr. Joe Nassal writes: “A few discovered our unity: the bond of later, Fr. John Merlini, as her
years ago I had the privilege of the blood of Christ.” spiritual director, was
visiting the birthplace of our instrumental in advising Maria as
Society, Giano, a beautiful spot Companions Today she founded a congregation of
which sits on a hill near Rome. women affiliated with the
With vineyards draping the Gaspar’s gift of attracting and Missionaries of the Precious
landscape, this historic and holy inviting others into his work, Blood, the Sisters Adorers of the
shrine is now a retreat house continues today in the Precious Precious Blood (ASC).
operated by the Italian Province Blood Companions. Gaspar
of the Missionaries. I could involved the laity in the missions Keeping the Dream Alive
imagine Gaspar sitting in this he preached and in the groups he
sacred place. In this solitude, God established to carry on after the The spirit of St. Gaspar still
gave shape to his dream of an missions. In that same spirit animates the priests, brothers and
apostolic society bearing the Companions are responding to a Companions of the Precious
name of the Precious Blood. A call to be involved in the work of Blood. His spirit calls us to
community that would become a the Missionaries of the Precious compassion for the poor and
beacon of hope and reconciliation Blood, ministering to those on the outcasts; inspires us to confront
for a wounded world. With the fringes of society and reconciling unjust and oppressive structures;
promise Jesus gave to his all through the power of the encourages us to seek communion
disciples, ‘I will be with you saving Blood of Christ. with all creation. We are, in the
always, even to the ends of the words of St. Paul, “ambassadors
earth,’ sealed upon his heart, Maria de Mattias of reconciliation” who strive to
Gaspar set out from San Felice to live the spirituality of the Blood
heal and to reconcile. One of the greatest consolations of Christ in our world today. This
to Gaspar was a mission he gave Precious Blood stains our hands,
“We celebrated Eucharist the in the town of Vallecorsa in 1822. our hearts, our imaginations and
afternoon we were there. As we The town had seen horrible strife leads us to pursue peace and seek
gathered around the altar and in 1814 as factions battled for its justice for all God’s people.
circled the sanctuary, the vision of control; eighteen people had been
Gaspar became real. And the massacred in the church, and one St. Gaspar risked his life so that
promise of the ‘ends of the earth’ woman stabbed directly in front others might experience peace.
was enfleshed. Gathered around of the main altar. Since that time He refused to compromise his
that altar were members of the the town had been stricken with faith, choosing to obey God rather
Missionaries of the Precious fear and hatred, and a spirit of than the state in matters of
Blood from Italy and Austria, revenge. St. Gaspar arrived there conscience. He preached with the
Germany and Poland, Spain and as a messenger of peace and power of his convictions and

47
touched others with the
compassion of Jesus. His life is
our life; his mission is our
challenge; his dream is our
destiny.

This article was co-authored by Pope John Paul II from his address to the
Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S., and Fr. XV General Assembly of the
Ray Cera, C.PP.S. Society of the Precious Blood,
in Rome, October 19, 1989

The spirituality of St. Gaspar ... is truly at the heart of the Christian
life. The Most Precious Blood of our Lord has always been the
object of a special attention on the part of all the saints: it is the
school of sanctity, of justice, of love ... Never cease ... to delve
deeply into this mystery of justice and of love: diffuse it into the
whole world.

In the General Assembly which your are celebrating, you have


studied the specific topic of the mission of your Congregation,
making an analysis of the situation in the various places where you
work in order to meet present challenges according to the charism
of your Congregation. This charism, in fact, is the ministry of the -
word of God, as stated in the Constitution of your Congregation. In
a society which too often ignores the signs of the presence of God,
you must be the word that knocks at the door of every human heart,
so that it may open to receive the Savior. In a society which often
fails to uphold human dignity, especially the dignity of the poor,
you must awaken the voice of conscience that sustains the primacy
of truth and love.

My dear brothers, I fervently hope that the teachings which we have


learned from the life of your founder — contemplation of the
mystery of the Blood of Christ and commitment to the ministry of
the word — will be an inspiration for your personal and
communitarian renewal, so that you may present yourselves to the
people of God, not only as teachers of the word, but also as
convinced witnesses to Christ, who loved us and gave his Blood for
us (cf. Gal 2:20).

48
DISCUSSION STARTER

Gaspar heard the cry of the blood among the poor and sick and those with needs.
How does my life of companionship respond to those in need?

Where do I hear the cry of the blood in my parish or community and what is my response?

49
Precious Blood Companions recious Blood people the priest that he preferred to walk

P have their eyes fixed


on the cross of Jesus
Christ. We find our footing at the
barefoot. “Of course, my feet get
bloody sometimes because I step
on broken glass.” The priest
foot of the cross. In this chapter summed up the story by saying, “I
we will explore how the want to go to heaven with my
spirituality of the cross reflects shoes off.”
God’s desires to bring all peoples
near through the Blood of Christ. In a sense, this is what Precious
We will examine the crosses we Blood people do: we walk
carry in our own lives and try to through the streets with no shoes.
see them as invitations to a holy Nothing between our feet and the
communion with a God who ground. With bloody feet from
- Formation - suffers with us and a planet so broken glass and broken dreams,
often plagued with pain. The we find ourselves standing on
Study Chapter spirituality of the cross engages holy ground. The spirituality of
our memory by asking us to recall the cross suggests we stand where
how God chose to stand with us in the blood of the poor, the accused,

4 the person of Jesus. When we


stand at the foot of the cross, we
do not stand alone.
the condemned has seeped into
the soil beneath our feet. This is
holy ground.

BRINGING ALL At the Foot of the Cross: When we stand with others under
Holy Ground the weight of their crosses, we
PEOPLE NEAR: stand in the same place Jesus did.
A SPIRITUALITY Like long-distance runners about It is a place of condemnation,
OF CROSS to embark on this cross-country accusation, and rejection. It is a
course, the first thing we do is to place that resembles a lonely hill
By Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S. check our feet. outside the city of Jerusalem
where tears are shed and hopes
On a retreat several years ago, a are shattered. This is the place
priest told me about one of his where we will hear the call of
first assignments in the inner city companionship.
of Chicago. The neighborhood
bore the scars of urban blight and Where do we stand? Too often we
decay. He went to the grocery answer that question from the
store one day, walking over standpoint of ideology: we say we
countless broken bottles on the are liberal or conservative,
sidewalks and streets. As he stood progressive or traditional. But as
at check-out line, a young boy Companions of the Blood of
from the parish greeted him. The Christ, we answer that question
priest noticed that the youngster not from the viewpoint of
wasn’t wearing any shoes. Bob ideology but from the vantage
asked him where his shoes were. point of our spirituality. When we
The boy said, “At home.” He told stand close to the cross, we will

50
see that the water and blood flow People who are prepared to be obstacle, as something we want to
like a stream from the side of “cross examined” for their faith avoid. Most of the time many of
Jesus make us a community. In “give no thought to what lies us view the cross not in terms of
this water and blood, we are behind but push on to what is triumph but in terms of tragedy.
washed and redeemed: “It is in ahead” (Phil 3:13). Like Paul,
Christ and through his Blood that their “entire attention is on the A few years ago on September 14,
we have been redeemed and our finish line” (Phil 3:14). They see the feast of the Triumph of the
sins forgiven” (Eph 1:7). In water the cross not as a hurdle on this Cross, we placed a large cross
and in blood, we are brought near: racetrack of redemption but rather between the altar and the
“But now in Christ Jesus you who as the way one must follow in congregation. Preaching that day,
once were far off have been order to reach the finish line. I had to look through the cross to
brought near through the blood of see the people. The cross was in
Christ” (Eph 2:13). It is the power This is the call to companionship the way. We placed the cross in
of this water and blood flowing captured in the cross of Jesus. As the most visible place we could
from the cross of Christ “who is Companions, we walk together find. We could not deny its
our peace,” that breaks “down the not knowing exactly where the presence, just as we can’t deny
barrier of hostility that kept us finish line is. Remember what the presence of those crosses in
apart” (Eph 2:14). Paul writes, “It is not that I have our own lives.
already finished my course; but I
In the water and in the blood that am racing to grasp the prize if Or can we? We can move the
soaks the holy ground on which possible” (Phil 3:12). This is “the cross off to the side. We can stand
we stand, we find “peace through prize to which God calls us — life it against the wall. We can get it
the Blood of his cross” (Col 1:20). on high in Christ Jesus” (Phil out of the way of our worship.
3:14). We run this race, we pursue Isn’t that what we often do with
Cross Examination this prize, when we have the the cross in our lives: we move
courage to examine those crosses the cross out of our way. We hang
Those who have stood under the of our own lives. We run this race, the cross on the walls so that no
weight of cross; those who view we pursue this prize when we are one will trip or stumble or fall. We
the world from the perspective of crushed by the crosses of our lives place it on steeples that rise
Precious Blood spirituality, know but have the courage to get back toward the skies, putting the cross
the meaning of that phrase from up again and continue on this out of our reach.
the Apostles’ Creed when we say, cross country course. And we
“Christ descended in to hell.” pursue this prize when we stop In most places where I preach, I
They know because they’ve been along the way to stand with have my back to the cross. But for
there too. They have the scars on another in his her pain and that one Sunday morning, the
their souls, the wounds on their suffering. cross was in the way. Whatever I
hearts, and the ashes on their said that day had to pass first
psyches to prove it. But this has The Obstruction through the cross. Which is, of
taught them to keep seeking, in of the Cross course, the point and the paradox
Paul’s words, to “know Christ and of the cross. When the cross is in
the power flowing from his For many of us, however, when the center of our lives, it is more
resurrection; likewise to know we follow this way of the cross than a distraction, it is an
how to share in his sufferings by we sense this central symbol of obstruction. The cross we placed
being formed into the pattern of our faith not as an opportunity or at the center of our worship
his death” (Phil 3:10). an invitation but rather as an obstructed our view — my view

51
of the congregation, their view of mix-up of communication: “She we look to the northern skies and
me and of the altar. crossed me up.” Or, “Our letters see the northern cross; turn to the
must have crossed in the mail.” south and see the southern cross.
The cross was in the way. But We use it to write people off: “I This is what the cross does: it
isn’t that how we often view the crossed her name off the list.” In points to the north, pushes us to
cross in our lives: not so much as some relationships with people, the south.
the way of the cross but the cross the cross is multiplied: the
as in the way? Don’t we view the familiar double-cross. This is the direction of the cross:
construction of the crosses in our it is the way that leads to life. This
lives more as obstructions than In body language, we cross our sense of direction is captured in
opportunities? Don’t the crosses arms, cross our legs, cross the Philippians hymn which por-
of our lives weigh us down rather ourselves, and each gesture trays a downward movement as
than lift us up? Don’t we claim conveys a certain meaning: Jesus did not claim equality with
our crosses as tragedies not distance, a lack of interest, a God as something to be exploited
triumphs? defensive posture, a blessing, or but rather emptied himself, taking
the beginning of a prayer. the form of a slave. God came
The Language of the down to earth. Jesus humbled
Cross We cross the street to get to the himself and became obedient to
other side. We come upon a hill the point of death — even death
Think about how we speak of with a yellow sign that has a black on a cross. But because of this
those crosses we carry. Don’t we cross in the center and we slow downward movement of the
often talk about them in the down because just over the hill Divine One, “God highly exalted
language of loss? When we suffer there’s a cross road. And we don’t him.”
a setback, or are engaged in a want to cross paths with an
struggle, or endure a relationship oncoming car to cause a crash. The cross goes both ways. The
that is difficult, we say of the cross goes all ways. The cross is
experience, the event, the person, We cross stitch, cross examine, the way. Except for many of us, in
“I guess it is a cross I have to cross over, cross country. There the language of our lives, the
bear.” We speak of it as something are cross winds, cross beams, cross is too often in the way.
— or someone — that tries our cross walks, cross words. It’s
patience. Sometimes a heavy puzzling.
cross, an incredible loss, weighs
us down, pushes us to the ground. Have I crossed you up? Or is it
down?
Reflect for a moment on how we
use the word “cross” in our The Direction of the Cross
language. A parent says to a child Looking at the Cross
after the child talks back: “Don According to Paul’s famous hymn
get cross with me.” A boss comes in his letter to the Philippians When we look at our own lives
into work in a foul mood and the (2:5-11), the movement of the and see the crosses we’ve carried,
whispers in the office warn: “He’s cross is both up and down. That’s the experiences of suffering
cross today.” Or, “Better not cross the direction of the cross. It takes we’ve endured, and maybe even
him.” us higher and deeper. But it also the people we’ve encountered
takes us to the east and to the whose personalities or ideologies
We use the word when there’s a west. In the darkness of our night, have tried our patience, we begin

52
to sense how these crosses have tribute to a woman who consis- on our own resources. We can rely
allowed us to go deeper into the tently refused to be labeled as a only on the One whose grace
mystery of suffering, the mystery saint and instead clung to the comes down from heaven and
of life. We look at those words, “as I have done, so you lifts us up again.
experiences of how we survived must do.”
not by our own strength or talent When we are emptied by the
or gifts, but because of an inner As Mother Teresa has done, so we suffering we have endured, we
strength we never knew we had can do. Unfortunately, for most of can only rely on the redemption
until our world came crashing in us, we are content to make people won for us on the cross to fill us
and the cross grew so large we like Mother Teresa saints and let with hope again.
thought we’d be crushed under its ourselves off the hook. But when
weight. We often say in moments we don’t look away and see the When we are weighed down by
like these: “I never would have cross for what it is, we see it is our tragedy, it is the cross that is
made it through without my life. As painful as our lives are at etched upon our lives at baptism
faith.” times, there is the ultimate that claims us for Christ. With this
promise being spoken through gift of faith growing in our hearts,
This is the quality of redemptive this cross. As difficult as it is to we claim our cross-laden, blood-
suffering that is traced upon the bear at times, this cross will lift us stained lives as a triumph of hope.
cross. Redemptive suffering free. As tragic as our lives become
brings people together; it does not at times, God’s faith in us, God’s When we heed the conversation
divide. A powerful example of love for us, God’s hope in us, of this cross, we hear the wisdom
this occurred a few years ago makes it possible to claim our of the wood — a wisdom the
when a frail, fragile little woman little lives as a triumph of the world deems as foolish. These
in India, Mother Teresa, died. cross. planks of wood, once living, are
There was an extraordinary cut down and tied together to hold
outpouring of emotion from all Conversation the body of another living being.
parts of the world upon learning with the Cross From this wood, the voice of the
of her death. At her funeral, the dying gives life to the living.
true measure of what it means to When we place the cross at the From this wood, the suffering of
be Catholic was in evidence as center of our lives, we begin to the innocent gives forgiveness to
people from all faith traditions understand that life is not about the guilty. From this wood, the
gathered to pay their respects and comparing losses — as when we blood of the Lamb gives courage
voiced prayers of gratitude to this hear about people whose crosses to the lost. From this wood, the
small woman who carried large are so large that ours seem to compassion of the crucified gives
crosses. It was her ability to see shrink into insignificance. No, it comfort to the grieving.
the tragic consequences of the is not making comparisons but
cross — the poverty, the home- making conversation with our At times in our lives this
less, the hungry, the leprosy — own crosses. It’s about feeling the conversation with the cross is
and her ability to respond in faith weight of our own crosses, given voice in the witness of
that the world regarded her life as measuring the depth of our own someone who knows the language
a triumph. Mother Teresa claimed losses, and beginning to see them of the cross. A friend of mine was
the cross as her triumph and this not as obstructions but as very ill from cancer. For almost
was seen clearly at her funeral as opportunities for God’s ultimate two years, Nancy had to receive
national boundaries and religious triumph in our lives. For when we weekly intravenous treatments.
barriers were crossed in paying are in the depths, we cannot rely Somewhere in the middle of this

53
exhausting process to restore her and follow in my steps” (Luke being comes together at the same
health, Nancy lost her courage. 9:23). There was a certain sense sacred place: in the broken heart
She wanted to run from the tree of of authority in the little girl’s of God.
the cross for she found no shade, words because of the suffering
no comfort. In describing this she had known in the ten short We stand close together at the foot
experience, she wrote, “It is hard years of her life. When someone of the cross. This One who hangs
to say which collapsed first, my comes to me when I am sitting from the wood of the cross draws
soul or my veins, but collapse under the tree of the cross and us near. We stand at the cross and
they both did. One day the search says, “I know what you’re going listen to the wisdom of the wood:
for a healthy vein became too through,” my first reaction is, we are not alone. Our suffering is
painful. I pushed the needle away “How dare you! How can you united with the very suffering of
and cried.” possibly know what I’m going God. Our pain is etched in the
through? How can you possibly grains of this wood. Our death
In telling this story, Nancy recalls know my suffering or my pain?” dares to be incorporated into the
that the nurse left the room but But when that person shows me death of Jesus.
returned a short while later his or her wounds, as the little girl
holding the hand of a little girl. showed Nancy, when I know a In coming together, in walking
This ten-year-old girl had battled little of the story of what the other this way of the cross, in standing
cancer for most of her life. The has suffered, I find the invitation close to each other at the foot of
child smiled at Nancy and said, to sit for a spell with the other the cross, we find a soul mate for
“You should have got one of under the shade of the tree of the our suffering; a companion for
these.” Lifting her T-shirt, she cross. And I find, as Nancy did, our journey to death; and savior
showed Nancy the hole that had that I can take it. I can take up this for ourselves and our world.
been cut into her abdomen so that cross and follow. I can find the
she could receive her treatments courage to go on.
through a permanent plastic port.
Then this little girl put her hand, This is what Jesus is saying to us:
so small and so soft, on Nancy’s “I know what you’re going
hand and said, “You can take it.” through.” And when God knows
And Nancy did. what we’re going through, we can
find the courage to continue.
Through her own suffering, under
the shade of her own cross, this Brought Near through the
little girl smiled. And in her smile Blood of the Cross
and in the touch of her hand,
Nancy found the courage to rest The spirituality of the cross
awhile longer under the shade of reminds us how we find our home
her own cross. as people of faith, as children of
promise, as companions in the
The little girl’s words to Nancy, Blood of Christ in the broken
“you can take it,” reflects Jesus’ heart of God. It is here where
invitation to his disciples: every suffering and every death;
“Whoever wishes to be my where every torture and every
follower must deny one’s very terror; where every pain and
self, take up one’s cross each day, every passion of every human

54
DISCUSSION STARTER

What has the “book of the crucifix” taught you?

55
Precious Blood Companions FATHER BRUNNER: He exhorted the American
Relevant for Today? superiors immediately after
Brunner’s death to cultivate his
By Dominic Gerlach, C.PP.S., memory by saving his writings
edited by Joe Nassal, C.PP.S. and publishing his biography.

r. Francis de Sales However, there was no

F Brunner became a immediate, unified enthusiasm for


member of the Brunner in the United States. His
Society of the Precious Blood on rule had irritated some members
September 27, 1838. He built up a whose animosity continued after
community of his death. The
CPPS in his same iron will
- Formation - n a t i v e
Switzerland.
and single-
minded passion
Study Chapter Five years later that helped him
he would establish the
respond to an Precious Blood

5 urgent request
from Bishop
John Purcell of
Congregation in
this country
against all odds
Cincinnati, to were seen as
OUR PRECIOUS minister to the obstinacy and
G e r m a n Fr. Brunner’s
w r o n g -
BLOOD FAMILY IN immigrants in achievements may not
headedness by
THE U.S. his new state. have been as dramatic as
his detractors.
Accompanied Gaspar’s, but they were
However, by
Founders and Foundresses share by seven priests parallel, equally solid, and
the 1890’s the
a spirituality of the Blood, and seven certainly lasting.
atmosphere had
calling us to be open to the new. seminarians changed and the
and brothers Brunner voyaged to admirers of Brunner won out.
the United States arriving in
Cincinnati in December of 1843. By the early 1900s, still very
He established eight mission much under the influence of the
stations in northwestern Ohio and late Fr. Brunner’s rule, the Society
one in Indiana during the next was experiencing an era of rapid
fifteen years. Fr. Brunner was the growth and recognition. The
founder of the American province, number of vocations to the
which now are the provinces of Society grew, stimulated partly by
Cincinnati and Kansas City and the opening of Saint Joseph’s
also included the former Province College in 1891 and the
of the Pacific. expansion of St. Charles
Seminary in Carthagena, Ohio,
The Venerable John Merlini held especially with the new building
Fr. Brunner in very high esteem. in 1922.

56
The beatification of Gaspar del drawn. Yet, as the descendants of “Brunner”dale also.
Bufalo in 1904 aroused little immigrants approached the
excitement in the United States. fulfillment of the American All of this may lead us to ask if Fr.
But it was Brunner who continued Dream, the C.PP.S. kept close Brunner’s influence is relevant for
to inspire the province during pace with them, until by the end us today. If we limit our
these years, which is reflected in of World War II they had together consideration to externals, such as
the fact that as late as 1931 the reached what we might call the pious image of Brunner that
new minor seminary at Canton, middle class affluence. Then the looks down on visitors in the St.
Ohio, was named Brunnerdale in rigorous moral and pious Charles Center corridor, his
honor of Brunner, not Gaspar. It traditions associated with Brunner monastic inclinations, his time-
was still Brunner who was began to feel uncomfortable. A conditioned governance and
perceived as having given the Precious Blood priest who joined economizing, then my answer
American Province the formula a country club could no longer would be yes, Brunner is
that made it prosper. imagine that Brunner was still irrelevant. But in all fairness we
smiling down on him from must look beyond the externals to
By the late 1940’s and the early heaven. what was basic in Brunner’s life. I
1950’s, a reversal had set in. have in mind specifically his
Several reasons suggest I recall most vividly an apostolate to the humble, poor
themselves. At a time when literal experience that occurred in the elements among the German
conformity to canon law came early 1950’s. I was sent out on a Catholic population. His
into its own, Brunner’s work was recruiting journey for Saint achievements may not have been
perceived as somewhat irregular. Joseph’s College. Since this was a as dramatic as Gaspar’s were with
Also, at this time, a new, new venture for me, I asked a the gangs of bandits, but they
definitive historical study of seasoned confrere how I might were parallel, equally solid, and
Brunner was launched. It let the make the college attractive to a certainly lasting. His deep
facts speak for themselves, high school senior. He told me to religious convictions kept a
unfortunately not in the context of be sure to stress the fact that with struggling Society together in a
Brunner’s time, but in the context a college degree the graduate can mission territory with no material
of the 1940’s and 1950’s. In the expect to make $300,000 more in help from the home base in Rome.
1950’s there were signs that we his lifetime than a person who And he garnered many vocations
were going to become a fully doesn’t go to college. After — precisely from the kind of
canonical religious order, whether having been nurtured on Brunner people he served. He was held in
it fit our needs or not. spirituality for twelve years, this high regard among the poor and
shocked me! humble.
However, I would venture to say
that there was a deeper reason for Later on, I learned that What then makes Brunner
abandoning Brunner’s cult, a recruitment propaganda for relevant for us today? There were
reason that was all the stronger Brunnerdale had taken a similar first of all the solid, Gospel-
because it was subconscious. The direction, one that stressed the inspired values of prayer (a
American Province in its origins “middle class” advantages of the conviction that life is God-
had been associated with poor, school in terms of varsity sports, dependent), self-denial (without
humble immigrants. It was from swimming pool, superior which life is empty), and
the same poor (either in Europe or academic standards and other community (one can scarcely
later on in America) that the benefits. In effect, Brunner was teach others community when one
vocations to the Society were rapidly disappearing from does not practice it himself).

57
These are perennial values, often generous policy of the Society. “Good News” with muscle in it.
listed as prayer, fasting, and
almsgiving respectively. To accomplish all this, Brunner What keeps clouding our vision is
However, there was a fourth value had to make adaptations, not to that we have come to view the
that he exemplified, one that was the spirit of Gaspar’s Rule, but to world through middle-class
Brunner’s forte, one that demands the letter. Specifically, in these glasses. The fields are indeed as
our attention, and that is new conditions Brunner departed ripe for the harvest as ever, and
adaptability. from the letter of Gaspar’s Rule the workers will not be lacking
by committing his men to work because vocations will be drawn
In 1839, Brunner had been sent by chiefly in the parochial ministry. from the people served. No,
his Italian brethren to bring the (Gaspar never intended for his Father Brunner is not at all
Society to German-speaking missionaries to be parish priests.) irrelevant except in the eyes of
Europe. However, to succeed, he Establishing parishes was the those who want it so.
had to adapt to circumstances. need of the Church in Ohio, yet
Because the political- Brunner kept to Gaspar’s spirit by (Fr. Dominic Gerlach, C.PP.S.,
ecclesiastical establishment there insisting on the term taught for many years and is now
was stacked up against him he “missionaries” and on residence retired at Saint Joseph’s College,
turned toward the apostolate to in community. He also insisted on Rensselaer, Ind.)
the poor, untutored classes, both financial accountability to the
men and women, who then Society and to a strong bond or
supported themselves by labor promise of fidelity to the Society.
and begging.
The term “adaptability” implies
His great opportunity came, that we cannot expect to follow
however, with Archbishop Brunner’s example literally any
Purcell’s invitation to come to more than Brunner followed
Ohio. Here again, he was Gaspar’s example literally. The
assigned to the poor in the world keeps changing, and we, as
remotest regions of the diocese. missionaries, are flexible.
He served the immigrants in
America, which invariably The poor are the ones to whom
included the poorest of the poor, Jesus asked us to spread the Good
namely, the orphans. One News. They are now found
memorable example of the latter largely in cities, people whose
was the future Bishop Joseph condition (or rejection) has led
Dwenger. To accept religious them into the pit of despair, with
vocations of poor youngsters and all the problems that follow:
support them all the way through alienation, violence, drugs,
high school, college, and the unemployment, lack of education,
seminary eventually became one AIDS, etc. These are really not all
of Brunner’s most glorious that much different from the
traditions. Many Precious Blood problems Brunner met among the
priests can still remember and immigrants of his time. The
attest to the fact that what enabled common denominator is despair,
them to become priests was this the remedy for which is the

58
women joined her in that total By Maureen Lahiff
dedication to the Precious Blood.
Maria de Mattias was born and
Mother Brunner died in 1836, but baptized on February 4, 1805 in
she had begun a second family Vallecorsa, Italy. She was born
and the work of this family was to into a period of constant political
continue and spread. In 1844 turmoil; since her family had
several sisters came to America property and wealth, it was not
and from that beginning the safe for Maria and her brothers to
Congregation of the Sisters of the play outside. Though Maria was a
Precious Blood has spread. The lively and restless child, her life
motherhouse is in Dayton, Ohio. was boring. Her father did not
MARIA ANNA think his daughters should be
PROBST BRUNNER You can learn more about this taught to read and write, yet
1764 - 1836 congregation at its website, Maria soon began devouring the
Foundress of the Sister of www.bright.net/~cppsnews/ family’s many spiritual books.
the Precious Blood
(Dayton C.PP.S.) In Lent of 1822, a Precious Blood
mission team came to Vallecorsa,
The Sisters of the Precious Blood led by Gaspar del Bufalo. For
were founded by a creative Swiss three weeks, the whole town was
woman, Maria Anna Probst caught up in the drama of a
Brunner. She was a widowed Precious Blood mission. Gaspar’s
mother of six. Maria Anna had a preaching on the love of God,
deep love for the Eucharist and who sent his Son to pour out his
for the poor, especially orphans. Blood that all might be saved,
touched Maria. She heard
In 1833, while in Rome with her Gaspar’s invitation to imitate
son, Fr. Francis De Sales Brunner, Jesus by giving our lives for our
Mother Brunner enrolled in the brothers and sisters as addressed
Archconfraternity of the Precious directly to her.
Blood. In the Church of St.
Nicholas she listened to the In 1824, Giovanni Merlini
preaching of Canon Gaspar del preached the Lenten mission.
Bufalo. After her husband died ST. MARIA DE Maria’s conversations with
and her children became MATTIAS Merlini were the beginning of a
independent, Maria Anna realized 1805 - 1866 relationship that lasted for the rest
her life work was still not of her life. From the time he met
Canonized in 2003 her, Merlini wondered if Maria
completed. At age 68 she Foundress of the Adorers of
experienced an unusual calling could be the person to found the
the Blood of Christ (ASC)
from God and dared to say yes. community of women that would
Women were attracted to her life “Happy will we be,” she wrote, complete the work planned by
of adoration of the Eucharist, “if we can give our lives and all Gaspar and Francesco Albertini
reconciliation, simplicity, and our blood for the faith, in order to during their exile.
outreach to the poor. These save even one person.”

59
Merlini put Maria in charge of the made arduous journeys to visit the England. Maria was declared
Daughters of Mary, the association small communities scattered blessed on October 1, 1950 by
for girls. Maria began to invite the throughout the mountains. Many Pope Pius XII, and was canonized
young women of Vallecorsa into of these places had no resident on May 18, 2003 by Pope John
her home on Sunday afternoons for priests, so instructions and Paul II. Her feast is celebrated on
prayer and devotions. Sometimes devotions led by the sisters were the day of her birth and baptism,
Maria would speak from her heart the only regular source of February 4.
as well as leading them in prayer spiritual life. Maria describes her
and adoration. Soon, older women visit to Vallerotonda in 1860: Eventually the Sisters Adorers of
of the town began coming as well. “giving instructions to the girls the Blood of Christ (A.S.C.) were
Gaspar supported Merlini’s work and married women; in the established in the U.S. They have
with Maria, and delegated him to evening there are about a welcomed lay associates to share
be her spiritual director and mentor. hundred, but on Sundays there are in their spirituality and
around three hundred, not ministries.You can learn more
It was a long wait for companions counting the men who stand about their Community on their
and a suitable place to found a outside.” Maria preached from website, http://www.adorers.org/
community and school. Finally, balconies and standing on tables
near the end of 1833, the place in town squares. In her letters to Maria’s Legacy To Us
and conditions were right, in Merlini, Maria expressed doubts
Acuto. Maria’s plans for Acuto about speaking in public, but she Maria implemented Albertini’s
included far more than a school. also reported her satisfaction at vision of the universal call to
Drawing on Albertini’s writings, the number of people seeking holiness and mission. She was
the Fundamental Articles, she confession and communion in highly creative, adapting the
envisioned a complete program of response. Church calendar and the
devotions, spiritual formation, devotions of the people in
and retreats, educating women In his letters, Merlini often urged practical ways, fostering the
and girls in the faith and its Maria to take care of herself. spiritual life of busy people.
practice—a mission house for Maria struggled against illness all Maria saw women’s potential for
women directed by women. The her life. She suffered from being active agents of
school opened on March 4, 1834. asthma, and often succumbed to evangelization, salt, light, and
The people of Acuto were fevers. Even when she was leaven in their homes. Maria saw
enthusiastic and responsive. physically exhausted, Maria was that the call to adoration and
full of energy for the work and the mission was extended to all. This
What characterized the travels it required. The rapid was concretely expressed by
community from the beginning growth of the community, the inviting lay auxiliaries to adore
was its distinctive combination of scarcity of resources, and the and pray alongside the sisters.
adoration and apostleship. Gaspar press of the people’s needs often Her vision of church and the
commented that the lifestyle of resulted in friction and disputes participation of the laity
the sisters should not be austere, that Maria had to resolve. anticipate Vatican II; indeed, we
because of their heavy apostolic might say that Albertini, Gaspar,
work. When Maria died on August 20, and Maria helped fashion a
1866, in Rome, she was 61 years church capable of conceiving
Word of what Maria was doing old. The community had over what was born at Vatican II.
spread throughout the villages fifty schools in Italy, and had
and towns of central Italy. Maria spread to Austria, Germany and Maria’s devotion to the blood of

60
Christ, in an era when she could education and soon afterwards to
not receive the Precious Blood, the making of church vestments.
calls those of us who have the
privilege of sharing in the cup to a God guided the sisters from
deeper appreciation of our Switzerland to the French Alsace,
communion in the Blood of then to Germany and finally to the
Christ. United States in 1870. Their
motherhouse was established in
Maureen Lahiff is a Companion O’Fallon, Mo., in 1875. Since
of Alameda, Calif. then the missionary efforts of the
sisters have returned to Europe
and carried them to South
America.

The congregation’s mission is


being carried out in partnership
with lay men and women
associates, called Partners.

You can learn more about the


sisters at their website,
www.cpps-ofallon.org

MOTHER THERESA
WEBER
1822-1848
Foundress of the Sisters of
the Most Precious Blood,
of O’Fallon, Mo.

The congregation began in 1845


in Steinerberg, Switzerland, when
a small group of young women
joined together to live a life of
prayer and sacrifice. Mother
Theresa Weber was elected
superior. With a strong and active
devotion to the Precious Blood of
Jesus, the first sisters worshipped
before the Blessed Sacrament and
prayed for the reparation of sins
through the power of Christ’s
redeeming Blood. Immediate
needs led them also to the field of

61
DISCUSSION STARTER

Do you see a common thread in the life of St. Gaspar, Fr. Brunner, St. Maria de Matthias, Mother
Brunner and Theresa Weber?

62
Precious Blood Companions ompanionship in the to be God. Because of their

C Congregation of the
Precious Blood is about
making covenant. In this chapter
breach of covenant, they are
escorted to a new home outside
the garden of Eden. We’ve been
we will explore the nature of our trying to make our way back to
covenantal relationship with God Eden ever since.
and with one another by reflecting
on the covenant God made with Certain mile markers in journey
our ancestors in faith as it is back to the Garden of Eden are
expressed in the Hebrew and worth noting. For example, the
Christian Testaments. We will story of Noah and his crew of
trace some of the key moments ancient mariners is the first
and rituals that reflect our evidence of the covenant God
- Formation - understanding of covenant that
was initiated by God; broken by
makes with the people. The sign
of the covenant is seen in a rain-
Study Chapter infidelity; reclaimed through the bow creasing the stormy sky. I
voices of the prophets; and made promise, God says, I will never
new, signed, sealed and delivered seek to destroy the earth again.

6 in the Blood of Christ.

Early Signs of the


The covenant is signed and tied
with a bow.

Covenant Later, God chooses Abraham and


FROM GENESIS TO Sarah, the couple with no children
In the first book of the Bible, the and seemingly no future, to
REVELATIONS: reconnect with a community of
book of Genesis, God says, “It is
A SPIRITUALITY not good for the human to be believers. With Abraham and
OF COVENANT alone.” So God decides to live in Sarah, God once again writes the
each one of us and in all of divine signature reflecting the
By Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S. creation, thereby insuring an promise of the covenant in the
experience of community for as sky, this time in the stars. But God
long as God lives. God’s breath in also authorized the writing of the
the form of a mighty wind covenant on the body.
separated the land from the sea. Circumcision became a sign of
God’s breath in the form of a the covenantal relationship with
gentle kiss brought life to the God. Abraham’s story suggests
human. The story says we carry that God’s covenant is so person-
within us the very spirit of God. al and intimate, it is engraved on
We are God’s beloved from the one’s body. (As we know, this
beginning of creation. ritual expression of the covenant
became a source of conflict much
But we know what happens next. later after Jesus inaugurated the
The time of transition begins New Covenant and then ascended
when Adam and Eve are not into heaven. The early Christian
content with who they are in community got into the famous
relationship with God; they want family feud regarding whether or

63
not the new converts had to be understanding of covenant in the we read: “Moses took half of the
circumcised.) context of Precious Blood blood and put it in large bowls.”
spirituality, we pause our journey (Exodus 24:6). These are the
After a series of breakdowns on back to Eden by remembering containers that hold the blood of
the part of the people in living the these stories in more detail. the covenant. In this remarkable
covenant that God made with ritual, Moses takes half the blood
Abraham and Sarah, and break- A Passover Ritual and and splashes it on the altar. Then,
ups in the covenantal relationship A Sprinkling Rite after the people have heard the
that must have caused God a few Word of God and reply, “All that
sleepless nights and more than a In the story of the Passover from God has said we will heed and
few heavy sighs, God hears the Exodus, God advises Moses to do,” Moses sprinkles the people
screams of a certain group of tell the people to observe this with the blood from the bowls.
slaves and decides it’s time to try ritual as a “perpetual ordinance” This sprinkling rite seals the
again. This time God chooses a (Exodus 12:14). This story of the covenant which God has made
shepherd with a charismatic first Passover shapes and sustains with the people.
personality, a hot temper, and our understanding of Precious
latent leadership skills. Moses Blood spirituality. The Israelites This is the blood that stains the
will lead the people out of Egypt are huddled in their houses. The people with an identity: they are
on a desert sojourn toward a space is crowded with family and God’s people. These large bowls
promised land. friends who have been told not to of blood hold the sign of life, the
spend this night alone. In this symbol of relationship. In the
The Exodus stories give us a new crowded space, standing shoulder action of the ritual, the people are
way in which God signs the to shoulder, our ancestors in faith invited to believe that they are
covenant with the people. In both make it through this night of now in a unique and holy
the Passover story when the danger and destruction because of relationship with their Creator, a
homes of the chosen ones were the blood that stains the doorposts relationship sealed by a sacred
marked with the blood of lambs to of their houses. This blood bond that is stronger than death.
signify their special relationship becomes the sign of their Now they are God’s special
with God; and later, in the messy deliverance from the death and people and are to live in a new
ritual of Moses sprinkling half of destruction that whirls about their way because of the love God has
the blood of slaughtered animals houses that night. This blood shared with them. The people
on the altar and sprinkling the becomes the symbol of their themselves become the containers
people with the other half, the liberation to live God’s new of God’s compassion; the vessels
covenant is now signed in blood. dream and new identity for them. which hold this life force captured
Because blood is the life force They are no longer slaves in a in this “blood of the covenant.”
within us, this symbol becomes strange land, but pilgrims who
for the people the sign of their would soon be on the move to a But this unique and intimate
freedom from their oppressors promised land. But in their mov- relationship with God becomes
and the favor they enjoy in God’s ing, God advises them, do not too much for the people. The
eyes. They are God’s people; they forget this night. Do not forget desert is too much for them. Even
share the bloodlines that make this story. That is why they are to freedom becomes too much for
them a new family of faith. celebrate this ritual as a them. On their long trek across
“perpetual ordinance.” the desert, they begin to lose hope
Because these two stories from and lose touch with God. This
Exodus are so central to our In the second story from Exodus, should not surprise us. When the

64
people are out in the desert, there awhile, their “favored nation chapter 6, when Moses outlines
is no place to hide. Since there is status” becomes too much for the first covenant to the people.
no security, they have to rely them. They want to be like all the Namely, “you shall love your God
completely on God. They other nations. They want a king. with all your heart, with all your
complain to Moses that even They want a temple instead of a soul, and with all your might. And
though they were in slavery in tent in which to worship their these words which I command
Egypt, at least they had enough to God. Again they are forsaking the you this day shall be upon your
eat. Again, this is a natural covenant which is based on the heart” (verse 5).
reaction since to be freed from principle that God alone is their
slavery is frightening. They had ruler. But once again God gives in That passage from Deuteronomy
become familiar with what to to their demands. which Jeremiah resurrects
expect as an oppressed people. refreshes the peoples’ memory.
Now this sense of freedom they In wanting to be like all the other The words of the covenant are to
are experiencing is something nations; in denying their special be taught to the children; are to be
completely new. They have to place in God’s heart, they lose talked about in the homes; are to
become entirely new people! sight of the original vision of the be the subject of conversation as
covenant. They lose their land and they walk along the way; are to be
Again they complain to Moses. become exiles once again. In their the first words they think about
Moses meets with God to discern most dire and desperate when they get up in the morning
the next step in this evolving predicament, the prophets come and the last words they remember
relationship. At times, God gets along to call the people back to as they go to sleep at night. “And
frustrated and threatens to destroy covenantal relationship. you shall bind them as a sign upon
these complaining nomadic your hand; and you shall write
children. But Moses intervenes What is important for us to them on the doorpost of your
and convinces God to give them remember here is that prophets house and on your gates” (Deut.
just a little more time. After all, don’t create community so much 6:8-9). Again, the implication of
what would God look like in the as remember community by this passage is that the covenantal
eyes of the Egyptians if God led remembering the covenant. relationship between God and the
the people out of slavery with Prophets seek to transform the people is so personal, so intimate,
signs and wonders only to destroy community to which they belong that the words of the covenant are
them in the desert? God’s by drawing upon ancient sources, written on the palms of their
reputation is at stake here. So God stories, and symbols that hands, splashed on their front
gives in to Moses and puts the recapture for the people their porches and the gates of their
covenant down in writing, on unique relationship with God. homes.
tablets, etched in stone, “written
with the finger of God” (Exodus One of these prophets, Jeremiah, Jeremiah traces the divine
31:18). introduces the concept of the new initiative and inspiration of the
covenant that is no longer written Mosaic covenant that God
on tablets or carved in stone but is chooses a particular people to be
Prophets: now etched upon the heart of the God’s very own. The prophet
The New Covenant people [Jeremiah 31]. But the reminds the people that this
newness of this covenant is covenant must now be written not
After the people reach the actually imbedded in the very old on the body but in the body: on
promised land and settle down for idea outlined in Deuteronomy, one’s heart.

65
The Spacious Vision: but with his own blood. trusting in God’s dream for them.
A New Covenant in the In this spacious, inclusive house,
How spacious is this room? there is room for all.
Blood of Christ
Consider the fact that Jesus enters
Jesus takes this notion of the new this sanctuary where a new The spaciousness of this sacred
covenant that is written upon covenant is born, a new creation challenge is summed up by Jesus
one’s heart and draws upon the is conceived, in the company of in his new commandment: “This I
symbolism of the story about the his friends, one of whom would command you, to love one
blood of lambs splashed on betray him, another of whom another” (John 15:17). Our
porches to identify himself as the would later that night deny even relationship with God, our
Lamb of God whose blood ushers knowing him. Like his ancestors, friendship with Jesus, and our
in a new age of relationship with this Blood of Christ will become companionship with one another
God. He remembers and the means of deliverance from all is grounded in this commandment
reverences the story of the first that seeks to destroy humanity. to be inclusive: to love one
covenant even as he creates this Whatever sin seeks to keep another. This simple command
new covenant that is signed in his people apart, whatever betrayals reflects the biblical notion of
own blood. and denials threaten to constrict covenant. It is at the center of our
peoples’ hearts, the Blood of understanding of what it means to
The spaciousness of this covenant Christ becomes the means of be Companions of the Precious
is reflected in the story of Jesus’ liberation to live God’s new Blood.
own Passover. On that day before dreams.
he died, Jesus advises his disci- An Inclusive Community:
ples to go into town to prepare a The spirituality of covenant in the God Shows No Partiality
place for the Passover meal they Blood of Christ offers a spacious
would celebrate that night. The vision where all are welcome, Precious Blood spirituality is
disciples are shown an “upstairs where all find a place at the table, about becoming new — new
room, spacious, furnished, and all where all find room to breathe, to community, new covenant, new
in order.” Notice, that this room is move, and to be truly human and creation. The primary symptom of
“spacious.” Unlike the crowded holy. As Companions in the Blood the Spirit who makes all things
houses of the Israelites on the first of Christ, we seek to create a new is that a people of faith pays
night of Passover, Jesus would community that resembles that attention to those who are outside
celebrate his Passover in a upper room where Jesus the boundaries of community life.
spacious room, furnished, and all celebrated the Passover meal with
in order. Even as the chaos of his his disciples. We fill this house The spirituality of covenant in the
own death and destruction is with rituals that celebrate our Blood of Christ is inclusive: we
lurking in the shadows of that identity as blood brothers and are to be an inclusive community
very night, Jesus finds a room that sisters: we break bread, pour of memory and hope. We are open
is spacious. Jesus, the high priest, wine, wash feet, dream peace. to all peoples, all faith traditions,
enters this spacious sanctuary not This house of the new covenant is all ways of life, orientations,
with the kind of blood his furnished with forgiveness for political and ecclesial views, and
ancestors used to sprinkle the those who may betray or deny us economic circumstances.
doorpost of their crowded houses, and our dreams, or are fearful of Through the resurrection of Jesus,

66
the world was given a new lease visit any one of another nation; Blood of Christ is creating within
on life. This new life, this new but God has shown me that I us. By living this covenant that is
covenant, is characterized should not call any one common signed, sealed, and delivered in
especially by concern for those or unclean.” This is a major the Blood of Christ, we call others
who are outside the walls of our breakthrough in Peter’s thinking. to the inclusive and expansive
“uncommon” life. He moves from the precepts of the covenant of relationship that is
law to the person, focusing his found in the Blood of Christ.
One of the primary stories in attention on Cornelius and the
Scriptures that reflects this people who have gathered in his As people who have washed our
experience is the story of home. robes, our hopes, our dreams in
Cornelius (Acts 10:1-11,18). The the blood of the Lamb, we
conversion of Cornelius signals Cornelius shares his vision with embrace this image of Jesus as the
the beginning of a new era. Peter as to why he sent for him. Lamb of God who takes away the
Cornelius is at prayer when he And then Peter says, “Truly I sins of the world — all that seeks
receives a vision. He instructs two perceive that God shows no to divide us or keep us separate
of his servants to go to Peter who partiality, but in every nation any from one another. Jesus, who
is staying with Simon the tanner. one who fears God and does what spent his life looking for and
By profession, Simon was consid- is right is acceptable to God.” searching out those who were
ered an outcast. Already, then, the Then Peter goes on to tell the lost, so identifies with the lost
inclusivity of the new covenant is story of Jesus and while he was sheep of the flock that he becomes
seen in Peter as he follows what speaking, “the Holy Spirit fell on the lamb. He is the lamb led to the
Jesus would have done: stayed at all who heard the word. And the slaughter. He is the lamb silent
the home of an outcast. believers from among the before his shearers. The final
circumcised who came with Peter stage of our journey back to Eden
As the story unfolds, Peter is were amazed, because the gift of occurs in the book of Revelations
praying on the roof of the house. the Holy Spirit had been poured when Jesus is seen as the lamb of
His stomach growling with out even on the Gentiles.” God who sits in judgment as
hunger, Peter receives a vision of peoples of all tribes and nations,
something like a picnic blanket This is the vision that guides the races and creeds, orientations and
descending from heaven that is Companion process in the ways of life, come before the
filled with all kinds of non-kosher Congregation of the Precious lamb who was slain. Here in this
food. Because of his religious Blood: “God shows no partiality.” place, in this holy city without
beliefs, Peter says he will not eat To paraphrase something that walls or limits, everyone finds a
this “common” food. But he hears Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote by place at the table, a place to call
a voice that says, “What God has placing it in the context of our home.
cleansed, you must not call com- companionship in the Blood of
mon.” The Scripture says that Christ, we might say that “to be a
Peter was “inwardly perplexed as Companion does not mean
to what the vision which he had following a certain set of rules but
seen might mean.” to be the person that the Blood of
Christ creates in us.”
Later, when Peter arrives at the
home of Cornelius, he says, “You By making covenant with the
yourselves know how unlawful it Congregation, we acknowledge
is for a Jew to associate with or to and affirm the person that the

67
DISCUSSION STARTER

Fr. Joe Nassal writes, “The spirituality of covenant in the Blood of Christ is inclusive: we are to be an
inclusive community of memory and hope. We are open to all peoples, all faith traditions, all ways of
life, orientations, political and ecclesial views, and economic circumstances. … especially … those who
are outside the walls.” Tell of times when you have found it difficult to be inclusive, when you have
found the Precious Blood invitation to care for all very difficult to live out. Tell of times when Precious
Blood spirituality has helped us see others with new eyes, and accept them in our circle, and ways that
this has enriched us all.

68
Precious Blood Companions s the disciples particular depth of relationship.

A approached Jesus
asking him to teach
them how to pray, I was
Here again are some Community
members, neighbors, coworkers,
acquaintances whose company
wondering if there is a Precious we enjoy but with whom we
Blood way to pray? What spiritual would not share the deepest
exercises might we consider to secrets of our hearts. Hold these
stretch our hearts to be more faces in memory as they flash
inclusive? Beyond particular upon the soul’s screen. Remember
prayers — as we know from the especially those who you are
Gospel, Jesus didn’t teach the aware are in need of some special
disciples a prayer so much as an grace from God because of
attitude, a way to pray — how illness, loss, transition, tragedy, or
- Formation - might people who claim the
spirituality of the blood of Christ
suffering of any sort. Remember
also in a spirit of gratitude
Study Chapter pray? particular blessings received: the
joy of new birth, new job, new
I offer a few tentative reflections home, new love.

7 based on three major images of


Precious Blood spirituality:
covenant, cross, and chalice.
As the circle of the covenant
prayer grows larger, include all
those in our place of ministry, or
IS THERE A PRECIOUS COVENANT PRAYER in the neighborhood, or place of
employment. If you drive to
BLOOD WAY TO PRAY? Since Precious Blood spirituality work, follow the route you take
reflects the new covenant written and include all you pass along the
Fr. Joe Nassal, C.PP.S.
upon our hearts in the life, death, way. Now, as the circle grows
and resurrection of Jesus, we larger, include all in the city
might consider a symbol of where you live. Allow the circle
covenant as an ever-expanding to stretch even more as you
sacred circle. In silence, we close include all in the state, in the
our eyes and open our hearts. We country, in the world, and beyond.
picture first those who are closest And in this great beyond, slow
to us — family members, friends, down the slides that flash in your
community members, soul’s screen to hold the faces of
Companions — who form our those who have died and are now
most intimate circle of friends. As as stars shining in the night sky.
we picture each face as slides
projected on a blank wall, we hold But this covenant prayer is not
the picture in our soul’s eyes for quite complete. The circle has
just a moment before moving on grown so large that one can no
to the next one. longer detect any boundaries. But
just to be sure, remember those
Next, picture those we find easy you find most difficult to love.
to like but with whom we have no Picture in this circle of covenant

69
those who have broken promises piety, this prayer also unites us “Blood of Jesus, remind me”;
with you; those who have with the suffering ones of our “Blood of Jesus, reconcile me”;
betrayed you. Hold them there as planet. We place here at the foot “Blood of Jesus, inebriate me”
long as you can. As tempting as it of the cross those intentions, those
is to skip past these faces quickly, people, those places in our world It doesn’t matter so much what
hold them close and sense how today where violence reigns, words we say as we look into the
the circle is so large you can no where death is epidemic, where cup. Choose a phrase that most
longer grasp any edges. If one or chaos becomes the order of the adequately reflects what you are
two are clinging by a thread to the day. experiencing in your heart as you
edge of your circle, lend a hand to begin your time of prayer. Say it
bring them closer to the center. The prayer of the blood of the slowly, reflectively. Say it over
Granted, they may never be part cross is a prayer of solidarity. We and over, until you no longer are
of your inner sacred circle. The stand with those who like Jesus thinking about the words.
important thing is don’t leave are experiencing their own Personally, I like that last one:
them outside. For if we do, the crucifixion. We can stand there Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
covenant will so shrink as to make because we remember our own This mantra reminds me that we
it impossible to pray. experiences of crucifixion. We are to be intoxicated with the
plead on behalf of those who are Blood of Christ; drunk with the
dying or in dangerous situations. dream of eternity.
BLOOD OF THE
CROSS PRAYER When we pray before the cross, When we come to the end of our
we come to know that the answer time of prayer, drink deeply of the
The second major symbol of our to our prayer is found in our love God has for us. And then
spirituality is the cross. unwavering belief that we are not pass the cup of blessing around.
Specifically, how the blood of the alone.
cross has redeemed us, reconciled As Precious Blood people, may
us, brought us near to one another. CHALICE PRAYER we always include in our prayer
Here, the meditation focuses on our deep yearning for
the suffering of our own lives and Finally, the prayer of the chalice reconciliation among all peoples
uniting our sufferings with those gives us a visual reminder of how and a deep desire for our ongoing
of Christ. In our prayer, we image our very human lives mingle with renewal in the blood of Christ.
ourselves standing at the foot of the very holiness of God. Again,
the cross. Like Mary, Woman of we image placing in this cup all
the New Covenant, we find the that we are or all that we hope to
courage to trace our own scars be. We fill the chalice with
and sense we are not alone. choice, red wine. We see this wine
as the fruit of our labors and our
The intimacy of this prayer is love. It is the cup of suffering but
found in the ritual we celebrate on also the cup of blessing. Place in
Good Friday: the veneration of the cup our friends, our memories
the cross. We kiss the cross. In of joy, our hope for the future.
this holy kiss, we unite all that we
are with the One who knows our As we do, we say simply:
pain. But more than personal or “Blood of Jesus, refresh me”;
private devotion or a practice of “Blood of Jesus, redeem me”;

70
RECONCILIATION PRAYER

Reconciliation lies at the very heart of the spirituality of the blood (Col
1:19-20). Fr. Barry Fischer asks us to think of reconciliation as
“bringing people and things into their proper relationships.” We might
think of reconciliation in this sense on several levels:
• personal, in which we are put into proper relation with God;
• communal, in which we reestablish the proper relationship with one
another;
• social, in which we develop the proper relationship among peoples,
races, societies;
• environmental, by returning to a respectful and proper relationship
with our mother earth.”

A prayer of reconciliation reflecting on Colossians 1:19-24:


Loving God, call me to that peace which comes only through the Blood
of the cross.
In the Blood of Christ alone we are reconciled.
In the Blood of Christ all who once were alienated you have now made
whole.
In the Blood of Christ all who once were hostile in mind because of evil
deeds you have now appeased.
In the Blood of Christ you were pleased to win over to yourself all
things on earth or in heaven.
In the Blood of Christ we are presented holy, without blemish, and
irreproachable before you.
In the Blood of Christ we are able to persevere in the faith, firmly
grounded and stable.
In the Blood of Christ we do not stray from the hope of the gospel that
we heard.
we preach good news to every creature under heaven as ministers of
reconciliation.
In the Blood of Christ we now rejoice in our sufferings for the sake of
our brothers and sisters. In the Blood of Christ we are filling up what
is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is
the Church.
In and through the blood of Christ we…
continue to reflect and pray with 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, Ephesians
2:13-16, Romans 5:8-11, and 1 Peter 1:18-19.

71
OUR LIFE IS A PRAYER constant pursuit of more perfect “Every angel who appeared to a
prayer, and it required, he said, prophet, every angel who
two things above all others: trust appeared to the shepherds, said,
and surrender. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ And remember,
when Jesus was awakened in the
“I ask people, ‘Do you know what boat in the midst of the storm,
love is?’ We must be lifted above because the men very afraid. He
the sacrilege of calling love quieted the storm. And he said to
anything other than complete them, ‘Fear is useless. What is
surrender and trust. You tell Jesus, needed is trust.’
‘I want that kind of relationship
with you.’ If you say it to Jesus “To dispel fear, we must tell Jesus
As Fr. Harold Diller, C.PP.S., often enough, your prayer so frequently, so intimately, so
neared the end of his long life, he becomes the kind of prayer that trustingly, ‘I want to love you so
was earthbound. An active, happy John wrote about when he said, much, you will live in me. Live in
priest for most of his more than 90 ‘Love is of God.’” Steadfast and me so much I can’t help myself. I
years, in his later years he needed soaring love was a theme of Fr. am going to respond to your love
a nap after to give him strength Diller’s because he saw it as the like the birds and the flowers, by
for the end of the day. His cornerstone of all creation. the energy you put in me by
eyesight faded and he relied on choosing me to feel your
friends to guide him wherever he “God’s being creator doesn’t intangible presence.’”
walked. mean almighty power. It means
the ultimate love,” he said. “God “I dreaded retirement. To retire
All of these things he accepted created us and stepped back to let meant to die, I thought. But once I
with good grace. Being us be humans while knowing that came here and started to live it, I
earthbound is part of the human we could say no to God. And found that St. Gaspar was right
condition. Fr. Diller learned that. that’s why I say being creator when he wrote the most important
But he has also learned that didn’t take power. It took love.” quality is humility. St. Gaspar
throughout his circumscribed day, Love is one thing people can give believed that humility is the
his mind and his heart could still back to their creator, he said. quality which will show you how
soar. “Love isn’t a feeling, it’s a to deal successfully with the
decision,” undirected longings of human
Throughout his life as a priest, he nature.”
served as a pastor, a teacher, an True love casts out fear, he said;
activist, an administrator, a before humans can be free to pray In his years of retirement, Fr.
chaplain and always a missionary, openly and expansively, they Diller spent his hours
and he tried to adapt to each role must free themselves from the contemplating, leading others in
with a thankful heart. He was a withering force of fear. “We prayer, striving for that perfect
great and constant friend of the shouldn’t be afraid of anything. communion and union with his
lay associate movement. Retired And yet, fear is built into us we creator.
in his final years at St. Charles can’t get rid of it. But you can
Center in Carthagena, Ohio, he make it leave when you say to “This is my work now,” he said in
found himself in one of his most Jesus, ‘I love you.’ Then you are 2002, just a year before he died.
challenging roles: as a person letting the power and energy of “When we begin to see ourselves
who prays. The holy man was in Jesus grow in you,” he said. as God had in mind for our being

72
— that our being who we are,
aware of the source of our
DISCUSSION STARTER
being, and the Jesus who lives
Write a prayer or a poem, or in another way create your own expression
in us, then our life is a prayer,
of one of the Precious Blood themes of cross, cup, covenant, or
because then we show that by
reconciliation; and share it with the group.
our actions we are constantly
aware of the fact of that
revealing love. That is the
reason God had for letting us
be: all creation, stars, birds,
flowers, each one reveals
God’s love.”

73
Precious Blood Companions ommitment - to be Charity of New York write

C
officially
responsible for; to individual contracts
entrust; consign; to place commitment. While they are
in custody
for

or usually three years in length, the


confinement; to pledge oneself to associates can ask for longer or
a position. Commitment is shorter times of commitment.
something with which
contemporary Americans are not Time-Limited
always comfortable - it’s Commitment
confining, limiting. We like to
keep our options open, or at least What sorts of things have you
have our eye on an escape route. committed yourself to in life? A
Americans spouse? A
- Formation - don’t like to be child? A job? A
stuck, to feel We are promising degree pro-
Study Chapter boxed in. gram? The
fidelity to the voice PTA? An exer-
Yet commitment cise program?
of the blood which
8 is at the very
heart of the life
of a lay
is calling us.
Buying
house?
a

associate. Fr. Barry Fischer, CPPS S o m e


THE COVENANT Nearly every commitments
religious are very
RELATIONSHIP: community with associates serious; some, like the
REFLECTIONS ON requires them to make a commitment to exercise, may last
ASSOCIATE commitment, covenant, or for some people only until the
COMMITMENT contract after an initial period of first rainy day. It is the nature of
discernment (for Companions a some commitments that you don’t
two-year period of formation). un-commit. When you commit to
Associates of the Sisters of Bon having a child, you make a
Secours make a promise to that commitment for life.
community for two years. The
Benedictine Associates of St. Some commitments are time
Walberg’s Monastery pledge to limited, like the commitment to
“seek God through daily be president of the PTA, or to
conversion, openness, and exercise until we reach a certain
obedience to the creative changes goal weight.
which the Holy Spirit calls forth”
in their one-year covenants. Associate commitment is time-
Associates of the Congregation of limited because people’s life
the Sisters of Charity of the circumstances change.
Incarnate Word write individual
covenants, as do Companions. Associate commitment is a
The Associates of the Sisters of commitment to live a certain way

74
of life – covenant rite, a member of the reconciliation that pours out of
• oriented to God Community is present to accept the Community to which we have
• giving witness to Gospel values the covenants (the provincial pledged ourselves.
• in collaboration with a particular director, a member of his
religious congregation. leadership team, or an officially
designated representative of the
THE COVENANT FOR
It seems that when an associate province) to signify that the PRECIOUS BLOOD
reaches the point of wanting to relationship is between the COMPANIONS
make a commitment as an Companion and the Community,
associate, it is likely to reveal an not just among Companions. Each Companion puts in writing a
orientation to life that is not likely During this rite, Companions and commitment, which is a personal
to change. It is unlikely that a Community members express pledge or promise. This written
person who lives life oriented to their willingness to support each statement, presented individually
God and giving witness to Gospel other, and to travel together on to the provincial director or his
values is one day going to reverse their faith journeys. representative, is shared with
that. But it happens that people others only if the Companion so
move, get married, or change chooses. It is presented during
The COVENANT is a
jobs, and are no longer able to the Covenant Rite, a public
collaborate in the mission written statement of ceremony, as a dedication of one’s
and ministry of a particular one’s pledge or life; however, it is only morally
religious congregation commitment about: binding. Companions normally
because of great changes in present their covenants during
a) one’s area of ministry
one’s primary obligations. their province’s assembly. First
or mission covenants are made for a one-year
Some Companions have b) one’s spiritual life term. Covenant renewals are
asked if they can make a once- and growth in made for a three-year period.
and-for-all lifetime covenant spirituality
with the Community. At this The covenant includes the
time there is no provision for such c) one’s community life intention for fulfilling one’s
a relationship. Re-examining in relationship with ministry, for continuing to deepen
one’s relationship with the the congregation and one’s spiritual life and for
Community and recommitting strengthening one’s ties with
Companions.
oneself with a renewed covenant other Companions and with the
is a good exercise in spiritual incorporated members of the
growth. The commitment to be a congregation. In this covenantal
Companion involves a relationship Companions are
Mutuality commitment to live prayerfully, assured of the fidelity and care of
and to consciously apply the the congregation in the mutual
The relationship between spirituality of the Precious Blood bond of charity.
Companions and the Community to our everyday words and
is mutual. During a covenant rite, actions. With our family May the Holy Spirit, author and
Companions make a pledge to members, at work and out in the mover of this Companion process,
commit themselves to the world, our Precious Blood lead you in our present
Community, and the Community sensibilities come with us, and we discernment with creative powers
returns the pledge. At each bring to the world the vision of enabling you to participate in the

75
new things that Lord is doing Companion does not mean chapter 2: “Can you drink this
among God’s people. For our following a certain set of rules but cup?”
God and Savior has saved us to be the person that the blood of • Maybe the “book of the
through the baptism of new birth Christ creates in us.” Our “rules” crucifix” (chapter 4) has set you
in the blood of Christ and renewal come from deep within ourselves; on a new path toward deeper
by the holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). our “commitments” come from commitment on your spiritual
our firm convictions. journey.
Writing a Covenant • How might inclusivity be
Writing a Covenant included in your covenant?
“Our common life and spirituality • Though your ministry may seem
give direction to our apostolate,” Sit down with pen in hand and “ordinary” can you believe it is
says Fr. Mark Miller, C.PP.S., start writing notes as you read “transforming”?
paraphrasing Gaspar, “and our below. Once you get started you • How does “missionary”
apostolate gives reflective will find it easier to overcome the describe who you are?
material to bring back to our “writer’s block” that is a common • Where are you in your
spirituality and common life.” It experience for all who try to write relationship with God?
is your ministry that will give a covenant. Some of the questions
direction for writing your and suggestions below may not be 3. In your covenant
covenant; and living your for you. Just respond to what acknowledge your relationship
covenant will lead you back to resonates with you. with the incorporated
prayer. “The responsibility of a members:
missionary is great,” Gaspar 1. In your covenant mention review chapter 5 and the first
reminds us, “and hence it requires your ministry: deliberation…
sanctity and knowledge.” review study chapters 1 and 3 and • Are you praying in a Precious
the fourth deliberation… Blood manner …and for the
A Quick Review • Looking back at “Reading C.PP.S. and Companions?
Between the Lines,” where do • Tell how you see your
Before going any farther it would you put yourself? association or even
be good to do a quick review of • How is your ministry as an collaboration with the C.PP.S. as
the study chapters by revisiting expression of the province’s part of your commitment.
your responses to the discussion mission statement? • Are you living in “faithful
starters. What notes have you • Do you see your ministry in creativity” to the Precious Blood
written? What have you your parish or community as charism?
highlighted or underlined in this your response to the cry of the • Where are you in your
booklet? Your responses are blood? relationship with the C.PP.S. and
material for beginning to • In what way do you relate to other Companions?
formulate your covenant as those “outside the walls”?
expressions of things that matter After you have written your
to you. To quote Emerson: “What 2. In your covenant explain how covenant, you are invited to share
lies behind us and what lies before you hope to develop your it with your sponsor, your
us are small matters compared to growth in spirituality: convener or others in your group
what lies within us.” review chapters 2, 4, and 6 and if you choose.
the second and third
For example, did you resonate deliberations…
with Fr. Joe Nassal’s: “to be a • How do you face the question in

76
COVENANT FORM

You will receive a form from your


sponsor or convener for the final
draft of your covenant. Please use
the form provided and, if
possible, type your covenant.
Using the form:
• print your name on the top line
• check the correct box for one
year for first covenant
• fill in your covenant statement
• sign your name at the bottom.

Later, after the ceremony, your


Provincial will sign and date your
covenant, keep a photocopy in the
Provincial Office and return the
original to you.

Companion Insignia
Companions receive an
insignia when making
first covenant. It images
a cross, a cup, and a
circle which
symbolizes covenant.

77
DISCUSSION STARTER

How has the process of writing your covenant helped you define your relationship with this
Community?

78
COMPANIONSHIP

COMPANIONSHIP begins with the Covenant Rite (celebrated


during a Provincial Assembly when possible).

COMPANIONSHIP includes
• on-going formation
• continuing in active ministry
• taking part in an annual retreat or day of reflection
• and sharing in as many Companion gatherings and provincial
events as possible given one’s state in life.

COMPANIONSHIP is grounded in Jesus’ commandment to be


inclusive: “This I command you, to love one another” (John
15:17). This simple command is at the center of our under-
standing of what it means to be Companions of the Precious
Blood.

After first covenant all Companions are equally part of the


same group unless they decide to form more than one group.
Each group is required to have its own convener and sponsor.

Covenant renewals after the first one-year covenant are for


three-year periods.

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